Published: Fri, October 12, 2018
Global News | By Blake Casey

Ireland 'cannot accept' Brexit backstop time limit, Republic's deputy PM says

Ireland 'cannot accept' Brexit backstop time limit, Republic's deputy PM says

Under the EU plan, Northern Ireland would effectively remain part of the single market and the customs union - and subject to their rules - until a free trade agreement is in place.

Labour demands that Britain retain "the exact same" perks it now has within the EU's customs union and single market - something May's so-called Chequers plan does not meet and which the EU rules out since London chose to leave both.

The BBC understands concerns centred around plans to ensure no hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Earlier, asked several times if she backed Mrs May's approach, set out in a White Paper in July, Ms McVey told the BBC: "I am completely supportive of the prime minister as she well knows, what I won't do even for you right now is speculate". The deadline of 18 October, when the future EU-UK trade deal must be submitted to all remaining 27 EU members, is nearing.

However, she declined to say the backstop would be "time-limited", a phrase which was in the original proposal published by London in June.

Such an arrangement would all but end May's chances of securing free trade deals with other countries.

Downing Street also announced a further 29 no-deal notices would be published on Friday afternoon, setting out what businesses and consumers should do in the event of there being no agreement by 29 March 2019.

Meanwhile the European Union says its negotiators are working "day and night" to try to reach an agreement ahead of Wednesday's summit.

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The DUP now stands in the way of the Prime Minister's plan to allow a number of checks between Northern Ireland and Great Britain in a bid to convince Brussels a UK-wide backstop is acceptable.

Both sides have made positive signals in recent days though also indicated they were still short of a deal, which would define the divorce terms and include an European Union declaration stating that it would seek the closest possible ties with Britain after Brexit ranging from trade to security to research. Under that document, the United Kingdom said a backstop would be "expected" to end by December 2021.

Mrs May insists that such an arrangement must apply to the whole of the UK to avoid the creation of a "border in the Irish Sea" between Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom.

Negotiations in Brussels have stepped up ahead of a high-stakes European Union summit next week, and May briefed selected members of her cabinet late Thursday on how she intends to get an agreement.

"She will not have DUP support regardless of whether the government tries to bribe, bully or browbeat us into accepting it", Wilson also said.

During the meeting work and pensions secretary Esther McVey pointedly refused to endorse the PM's Chequers plan while worldwide development secretary Penny Mordaunt and the leader of the Commons Andrea Leadsom also made it clear they held deep concerns.

As May prepared to update key Cabinet ministers on progress toward a deal, Ivan Rogers said that, more than two years after voting to leave the EU, Britain is "on fantasy island" about what kind of divorce agreement is possible.

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