Published: Wed, November 07, 2018
Sci-tech | By Patricia Wade

May will not agree withdrawal deal with EU "at any cost"

May will not agree withdrawal deal with EU

At the regular weekly meeting in Number 10, senior ministers discussed proposals for a "review mechanism" to ensure that the United Kingdom is not stuck indefinitely in a possible backstop arrangement created to avoid a hard border in Ireland.

Lisa Chambers, the Brexit spokesperson of Irish party Fianna Fáil, which similarly supports Varadkar's government in parliament, said that his willingness to consider a review process was a "significant and potentially hazardous change in direction".

Senior EU figures have indicated that they are prepared to offer British Prime Minister Theresa May an "independent mechanism" by which Britain could end a temporary customs arrangement with the bloc, the Times reported, without citing sources.

"He recalled the prior commitments made that the backstop must apply "unless and until" alternative arrangements are agreed."
A Downing Street spokesman described Mrs May's conversation with Mr Varadkar as "constructive", adding: "They agreed that the intention was that the backstop should only be a temporary arrangement and that the best solution to the Northern Ireland border would be found by agreeing a future relationship between the United Kingdom and the EU".

Sources close to the Brexit negotiations pointed out yesterday that "the European Union doesn't want the backstop to go on indefinitely either", which will add to speculation that Mrs May is softening her stance to clinch a deal.

Speaking at the Great Catholic Conferences in Brussels, Mr Barnier stressed that Britain will remain "in all likelihood" a "neighbour, partner and ally" after March 2019.

But a spokesman for Mrs May said no extra meeting has yet been scheduled ahead of the regular cabinet meeting in Downing Street next Tuesday.

The meeting came as hopes of a special Brexit summit to finalise the withdrawal agreement in November appeared to be receding.

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British Prime Minister Theresa May has secured a deal with the European Union on Brexit that will avoid the need for a hard border in Ireland, it has been reported.

The prime minister told today's cabinet meeting that time was running out, but that she would not agree a divorce deal to avoid a hard border "at any cost". She said that, while the United Kingdom should aim to secure a withdrawal agreement as soon as possible, this would not be done at any cost.

"While we too hope the Northern Ireland backstop will never be required to be used, it will be required to be written down in legal text".

Later, he even adapted May's "Brexit means Brexit" catchphrase to stress that a "backstop" deal for Northern Ireland was crucial.

In response, Sir Jeffrey said Dublin's stance was making a no-deal Brexit likely.

"Looks like we're heading for no deal", he wrote on Twitter, adding: "Can't understand why Irish government seems so intent on this course".

"Such an outcome will have serious consequences for economy of Irish Republic". In the 2016 referendum, they voted 52-48% in favour of Brexit.

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