Published: Mon, November 05, 2018
Markets | By Erika Turner

Ireland 'would block United Kingdom demand to quit Irish backstop agreement'

Ireland 'would block United Kingdom demand to quit Irish backstop agreement'

Senior sources told the paper that Prime Minister Theresa May has secured concessions from Brussels, with the EU agreeing to write an "all-UK" customs union into the divorce deal.

Theresa May appears to have accepted that an open border with the Irish Republic is absolutely vital - despite its regular exploitation by organised criminals and illegal migrants - but can not leave Northern Ireland in the Customs Union by itself, as this would lead to customs checks between Britain's Home Nations.

The Sunday Times reported that the EU would allow the creation of a whole-UK customs union that would avoid the need for a Northern Ireland border "backstop" that has been at the heart of the impasse in negotiations.

The PM has secured "private concessions" from Brussels that the whole of the United Kingdom will be allowed to remain in a customs union with the EU after Brexit occurs in March, according to The Sunday Times' political editor Tim Shipman.

The Irish border has proved the biggest obstacle to a deal, with both sides vowing not to reinstate a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland for fear of destabilizing a peace accord that ended decades of deadly sectarian violence.

In regards to customs checks, the deal is said to include an agreement by the European Union that checks on goods can take place at places of manufacture, or in shops, instead of at the border.

The opposition Labour Party has all but ruled out supporting any deal May reaches with Brussels, leaving the prime minister reliant on her slender parliamentary majority that comprises her own divided MPs and coalition partners the Democratic Unionist party.

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The publication added that Mrs May's cabinet could be discussing the plans on Tuesday and are hoping to make enough progree by Friday for the European Union to announce a special summit.

The hardline stance adopted by the British "stunned" Irish officials, and was viewed as a setback to clinching a Brexit deal this week.

The report by The Sunday Times (via Sky News) revealed that preparations for this deals are "far more advanced than previously disclosed", eventually leading to a document of around 50 pages being published.

"We are making good progress on the future relationship, and 95% of the Withdrawal Agreement has been settled". That could sway the euroskeptic wing of her Conservative Party.

Speaking ahead of the publication of Mr Johnson's comments, a Downing Street spokeswoman said: "The Prime Minister is clear we are leaving the customs union".

'Given that neither was on the ballot in 2016, we believe the ultimate choice should be handed back to the public with a People's Vote'.

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