Mooted Brexit deal is an ‘absolute stinker’, warns Boris Johnson

Derek Mackay

Derek Mackay

The sides in the negotiations on the terms of Britain's exit from the European Union have signalled progress on agreeing customs arrangements for an emergency Irish border fix but differences persist on the lifespan of the backstop.

She and her senior ministers discussed plans for a "review mechanism" to ensure the United Kingdom is not placed permanently in a backstop arrangement aimed at avoiding a hard border on the island of Ireland.

A Brexit deal is close but not yet done due to differences over the Irish border, Britain and the European Union said on Tuesday as sterling see-sawed on contrasting perceptions of how hard it will be for Prime Minister Theresa May to clinch an agreement.

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.

The crunch meeting comes amid mounting pressure to finalise the withdrawal agreement in order to announce the leaving terms at a special summit in November.

However, a Downing Street spokesman said the intention of both the United Kingdom and the Republic is that the backstop should only be temporary.

Speaking in the Irish parliament on Tuesday, Mr Varadkar repeated his red lines.

Dublin has insisted it would not accept any unilateral United Kingdom ability to end a Brexit backstop agreement on the Irish border.

"I'm open to creative solutions and creative language but we will not resile from our fundamental resolution, the backstop can not have a time limit or an exit clause", he continued.

The DUP is opposed to a Northern Ireland-specific backstop, since, if it came into effect, it would require Northern Ireland to be more closely aligned with the EU's customs and trade rules than the rest of the UK.

"We are being asked to choose between the break-up of the Union - at least for economic purposes - or the subjugation of the whole country", said the Uxbridge MP.

"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". Barnier said the backstop can have no end-date.

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

Expectations are rising that United Kingdom negotiator Olly Robbins will be pressing hard to finalise a deal in Brussels this week, to set the scene for a special Brexit summit later in the month to secure the approval of the leaders of the 27 remaining member states.

Donaldson said that he could not understand why the Irish government "seems so intent on this course".

"Such an outcome will have serious consequences for economy of Irish Republic".

"What I'm getting from business leaders, trade union leaders and others is they want permanence, they want stability".

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