Published: Sat, October 13, 2018
Global News | By Blake Casey

United Kingdom says it will maintain existing European Union sanctions after no-deal Brexit

United Kingdom says it will maintain existing European Union sanctions after no-deal Brexit

A Brexit backstop which is not time-limited would leave Britain and Northern Ireland trapped in unacceptable arrangements until the European Union decided otherwise, the deputy leader of Northern Ireland's DUP said on Friday.

With the negotiations coming to a head, the central focus of the discussions on Thursday is thought to have been the issue of the Northern Ireland "backstop" meant to ensure there is no return of a "hard border" with the Republic.

British Prime Minister Theresa May struggled on Friday to find consensus on a Brexit plan that would be acceptable to her ministers, her divided Conservative Party and the Northern Irish lawmakers who prop up her minority government.

Mrs May set out in June proposals for a "temporary customs arrangement" to ensure that the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic remains open in the case that no broader EU/UK trade agreement has been finalised.

Brussels has rejected any time limit to this "backstop" to maintain the status quo at the border, prompting anger from Brexiteers who believe the plan would keep the United Kingdom in limbo under European Union trading rules.

The DUP is adamant it will not agree to anything which results in imposition of extra customs or regulatory checks between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.

McVey, the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, refused to declare her support for May's Brexit plans on Thursday after International Development Secretary Mordaunt refused to do so earlier in the week. "The prime minister would never agree to a deal which could trap the United Kingdom in a backstop permanently", she said.

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May hopes British negotiators can strike a deal over the weekend, which she can discuss with the cabinet on Tuesday.

According to the BBC, Brexiteers were particularly concerned over the fact that Britain could be tied to the bloc's mechanisms indefinitely, which would become an obstacle to the country's independent trade deals elsewhere once it leaves the EU.

On rail transport, the government says it would have to negotiate new arrangements with individual countries to keep trains heading to the continent.

There is no hard border at present, as goods and services are traded between the two countries with few restrictions as both are now part of the EU single market and customs union.

Eurosceptics want a time limit for how long Britain will keep following the EU's customs rules before it can strike out on its own and sign independent trade agreements with new partners.

'I think that next week we can be very cautiously optimistic that we will make progress, ' Rutte said at a joint press conference with German chancellor Angela Merkel.

Mrs Foster said Mrs Thatcher "later deeply regretted the choice she had made".

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