The Brexit mess we're in | British politics | For Europe, Against the EU

Casey Dawson
June 10, 2018

Pro-Brexit campaigners say the plan is another step by the prime minister to maintain the closest possible ties to the European Union, undermining the clean break with the bloc they are seeking so that Britain can forge new trading relationships with the world.

The EU backstop option has been rightly criticised for reducing the single market "access of Northern Ireland to ... goods, including agricultural and electricity".

"If we want to build a new relationship, there needs to be more trust but also needs to be more realism about what is possible and not possible".

The British government is proposing a "temporary" customs arrangement that will delay the prospect of a hard border in Northern Ireland.

Responding, Mrs May told the BBC: "This is a negotiation, Michel Barnier has said exactly that point".

He suggested the EU's own proposal to keep only Northern Ireland within the EU customs union was workable but said: "What is feasible with a territory the size of Northern Ireland is not necessarily feasible with the whole United Kingdom". The current proposal would see Britain applying the EU's external tariffs for a limited period beyond December 2020.

It said that "the Commission's proposals did not achieve this, which is why we have put forward our own backstop solutions for customs", and that Barnier himself has acknowledged that discussions will continue on the British proposal.

But, the European Parliament's Brexit coordinator, Guy Verhofstadt, offered a gloomier verdict on the United Kingdom proposal, saying it was "difficult" to see how it would deliver a "workable solution" to avoiding a hard border and respect the integrity of the single market and customs union.

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On Wednesday reporters asked Davis if he would quit if the backstop did not have his explicit approval, replying: "That's a question I think for the prime minister, to be honest".

"A reduction in British personnel available to work in European Union waters and vice versa. could have a severe impact on the industry, hampering the targets it is forecasting beyond 2025 due to unknown rising costs", the company said.

"Is it a workable solution to avoid a hard border?"

Offering voters the opportunity to reverse their decision to leave the European Union.

May's government is divided over two alternatives regarding which customs arrangement to seek with the European Union after the end of a transitional period created to bridge Britain out of the bloc, which ends in 2020.

The alternative was for Northern Ireland to have a "special status", distinct from the rest of the UK.

The move was heralded by some as a significant shift by the Labour leadership towards a softer Brexit position, though several pro-EU Labour MPs said it would throw away the potential to defeat the government on the EEA amendment.

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