Published: Fri, October 12, 2018
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

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

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

Theresa May's ministers are threatening to walk out of her government over her reported plans to keep Britain potentially tied to a customs union with the EU permanently after Brexit.

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 Irish border "backstop", which seeks a way to avoid customs checks on the frontier between the British province of Northern Ireland and Ireland if there is no overall exit deal, has become the biggest sticking point in negotiations.

Downing Street said today that Theresa May would never agree to a permanent customs union with the EU, as the Prime Minister attempts to set cabinet ministers at ease over the Brexit negotiations.

The party's 10 MPs, who prop up Mrs May's minority Conservative Government, are preparing to vote against the upcoming Budget if they disagree with the Brexit deal.

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Michael Russell will be there representing the Scottish Government and is expected to once again sound the alarm about the damage to Scotland's economy a hard or no-deal Brexit would do.

"The numbers are bogus but the reports have had the desired effect of making at least a few colleagues wonder whether they will have to vote with the government as the lesser of two evils after all", he said.

The issue has become a major stumbling block in negotiations ahead of next week's crunch European Union summit in Brussels, ahead of which the bloc has called for "maximum progress" in talks.

International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt and the Leader of the Commons Andrea Leadsom also said to have "deep concerns".

The UK has suggested a temporary customs arrangement between the European Union and country as a whole, with the expectation that a permanent future deal would be in place by the end of 2021.

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"Nobody thinks we can sign off on all the detail [of a future trade agreement] by the end of the year".

Less than six months before the United Kingdom's exit from the European Union, there is little clarity about how the world's fifth largest economy and its preeminent worldwide financial center will trade with the EU after Brexit.

The EU says Britain's decision to leave the single market and the customs union means that until there is a trade deal, checks on goods crossing to and from the United Kingdom will be necessary in order to prevent exporters circumventing EU tariffs and customs controls.

The Telegraph mentioned eurosceptic global development secretary Penny Mordaunt and pension secretary Esther McVey.

One complicating factor is that keeping Northern Ireland in the single market would have to be agreed by the Stormont Assembly, which has not met since collapsing in January 2017.

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