Published: Mon, November 05, 2018
Global | By Enrique Rogers

Theresa May’s ‘secret Brexit deal’ with EU

Theresa May’s ‘secret Brexit deal’ with EU

The EU's position to avoid a hard border has been for Northern Ireland to remain within the customs union.

However, if these Brexiteers are not convinced that the customs union is only a temporary measure they would nearly certainly rebel.

And EU deputy chief Brexit negotiator Sabine Weyand backed Ireland when it warned that a time-limited backstop on the Irish border would never be acceptable.

At the same time, it reported there would be an "exit clause" in the deal to convince Brexiteers in Parliament that the arrangement - which they oppose - would not be permanent.

On Sunday, The Times reported that sources say Prime Minister May had secured a so-called "concession" on the Irish border question with the European Union whereby the whole of the United Kingdom would remain in the bloc's Customs Union.

It was claimed that the European Union had last week agreed a major concession to unlock a Brexit deal, by accepting that checks on goods could take place in factories and shops rather than at the border.

In a phone conversation with the Taoiseach, Mrs May said that any agreement would have to include a mechanism to bring an end to the backstop - created to ensure there is no hard border in Ireland if the United Kingdom and European Union fail to reach a broader trade deal.

"We continue to make good progress in the negotiations but there is work still to do", the prime minister's official spokesman said.

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He said there was a "rapidly ticking clock" but that minds were now being focused with a view to concluding a deal and he welcomed that.

Mr Johnson dismissed suggestions that the arrangement would lead the way to a Canada-style trade deal, arguing that the joint UK/EU political declaration on the future relationship due to be released alongside the withdrawal agreement will be "worthless".

A spokesman for Ireland's Tanaiste Simon Coveney said: "The UK has given written commitments last December and March that the Withdrawal Agreement will include a legal guarantee of no return to a hard border in Ireland in any circumstance".

The Sunday Times also adds that preparations for a final deal are more advanced than now publicised, with a document of 50 pages or more potentially on the cards.

"In March the United Kingdom agreed this backstop will apply "unless and until" a close future relationship eliminates any need for border infrastructure or related checks and controls. That is why we are increasingly positive on the expectation of reaching a deal", he said at a conference in London today.

Former Brexit Secretary David Davis told a Sunday newspaper that the Prime Minister must publish legal advice on any deal so that Ministers and MPs understand its implications before they are asked to vote on it, in order to avoid the "mess" that Tony Blair's government got into over the legality of the Iraq war.

"This has been committed to by the United Kingdom in order to have a withdrawal agreement".

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