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New Brexit deal would avoid the need for an Irish border backstop

New Brexit deal would avoid the need for an Irish border backstop

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.

Ireland's prime minister has told Theresa May in a hastily arranged phone call that he cannot allow the United Kingdom to unilaterally decide when to terminate the Irish backstop, creating the possibility that Britain could be tied in a customs union with the EU for the long term. He did offer an olive branch to the prime minister, however, by suggesting that he might consider proposals to write a "review" clause into the agreement providing the outcome of any such review could "not involve a unilateral decision to end the backstop".

Another government figure speculated that Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab could resign over the issue of the Irish backstop.

Mrs May's cabinet are set to meet on Tuesday to discuss her plan, in the hope that enough progress would be made by Friday for bloc chiefs to announce a special summit, it has been claimed.

Reports at the weekend suggested that the EU is now ready to contemplate concessions which would keep all of the United Kingdom in a temporary customs union following the end of a transition period due to end on December 31 2020.

Mr Raab stoked tensions again by insisting the United Kingdom must be able to pull out of the backstop after three months, according to the Daily Telegraph.

In practice, the backstop will only take effect if trade talks between the United Kingdom and European Union fail to produce a deal deep and comprehensive enough to avoid any checks on the Irish border.

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Plan removes the need for a so-called "backstop" on the Northern Irish border issue.

Ms McDonald was accompanied by her party's vice president Michelle O'Neill and South Belfast MLA Mairtin O'Muilleoir at Belfast City Hall as they met business leaders who have raised concerns about the impact of Brexit on labour supply. Coveney was later quoted as saying a "middle-ground position" on the backstop arrangement could be found, but added it must be legally watertight.

A financial services brexit deal will be "imminently" secured with the European Union, according to minister John Glen.

During a visit to Dublin on Friday, May's de facto deputy David Lidington said the United Kingdom and the European Union are "certainly very close to resolving" the Irish border issue.

The EU has suggested that the tweaked "two-tier" backstop covering all of the United Kingdom could give mainland Britain some scope to set its own trade rules - a central demand of Brexiteers - while keeping Northern Ireland aligned with the EU.

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".