EU’s Michel Barnier instantly rejects Theresa May’s Brexit backstop plan

EU’s Michel Barnier instantly rejects Theresa May’s Brexit backstop plan

EU’s Michel Barnier instantly rejects Theresa May’s Brexit backstop plan

Barnier's remarks in Brussels, following a new round of Brexit talks, come as tensions mount within the British government over how best to handle its departure, the first time an European Union member state has ever left the world's biggest trading bloc.

The UK's proposals for a "backstop" arrangement for the border between Northern Ireland and Ireland are to be published "shortly", although Brexit Secretary David Davis understood to have concerns about some of the details.

This will see the UK retain parts of the EU's customs union in the event of a wider UK-EU agreement finding no solution to the issue; but Brexiteers had become concerned as to whether the proposal would truly be "time-limited", as promised. The Irish Republic is primarily interested in avoiding a hard border and is likely to accept the compromise, as Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney underscores that it is "vital" that a legally-binding backstop agreement is in place. "Why? Because it has been designed for the specific situation of Northern Ireland". Davis still claimed a victory, but other Brexit hardliners in the Conservative party were not satisfied.

The biggest difference between the two "backstop" proposals is that the United Kingdom one applies to the whole country and not just to Northern Ireland.

"These were whether it is a "workable solution" to avoiding a hard border; whether it respects the "integrity" of the EU's single market and customs union"; and whether it is an "all-weather backstop".

Who supports it? This is the official policy of the Liberal Democrats and the favoured outcome of the Best for Britain pressure group and the People's Vote campaign for a second referendum on the final Brexit deal.

British and European businesses are sounding increasingly urgent warnings about the economic damage the U.K.'s exit from the European Union could cause, as the U.K.'s two biggest political parties acknowledged Wednesday that they remain deeply divided over post-Brexit trade and customs arrangements. He wanted it to be time-limited.

James Hookham, deputy chief executive, Freight Transport Association, says the lack of progress on the industry's key demands of government for a trade agreement, means that those in the industry charged with maintaining the country's supply chain after Brexit are left with no means by which to operate effectively.

"We will send a telegram congratulating Prime Minister Cameron: 'Dear David, friend of ours, we are happy that the British people have made the right choice regardless of your propaganda".

Under the European Union proposal "Northern Ireland would form part of our customs territory", said Mr Barnier, adding: "What is feasible with a territory the size of Northern Ireland is not necessarily feasible with the whole United Kingdom". The Brexit negotiations officially kicked off in June 2017 and are expected to be completed by the end of March 2019.

The EU Withdrawal Bill returns to the Commons next week, having been defeated 15 times in the House of Lords.

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