May briefs ministers ahead of crunch Brexit talks

12 October, 2018, 19:51 | Author: Myra Gill
  • GettyImages-801137196

But no less absurd than this appalling notion is the idea that the whole United Kingdom should, in effect, remain in the Single Market and Customs Union indefinitely to "solve" the alleged border problem.

The second part of the plan would see Northern Ireland stay in both the customs union and the EU single market.

Labour demands that Britain retain "the exact same" perks it now has within the EU's customs union and single market - something May's so-called Chequers plan does not meet and which the EU rules out since London chose to leave both.

Her intervention came as Mrs May met key Cabinet ministers in Downing Street to brief them on the progress in the Brexit negotiations.

Earlier, asked several times if she backed Mrs May's approach, set out in a White Paper in July, Ms McVey told the BBC: "I am completely supportive of the prime minister as she well knows, what I won't do even for you right now is speculate".

But the European Union is mounting resistance to any specific time limit being included in the text of the UK's Withdrawal Agreement, while Leave-backing ministers are understood to be insistent that the end of the arrangement should be more precisely defined than the vague term "temporary".

The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) is the other big issue for the prime minister, who relies on the Northern Irish party's votes to give her a notional majority in parliament.

Mr Coveney also suggested the entire debate over Prime Minister Theresa May's Chequers proposals for the future EU-UK economic relationship, which are hugely unpopular with Brexiteers, was misplaced.


Our Brexit Insider Facebook group is the best place for up-to-date news and analysis about Britain's departure from the European Union, direct from Business Insider's political reporters.

Reports of a growing government revolt emerged ahead of a high-stakes summit in Brussels next week aimed at nailing down the details of the two sides' divorce terms.

The document stated that the government "expects" this arrangement to remain in place no later than the end of December 2021.

This, however, would raise the prospect of increased regulation checks between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.

On Wednesday, EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier said there would have to be checks on goods travelling to Northern Ireland from the rest of the United Kingdom, because they would effectively be arriving in the EU's single market if there was no hard border with the Republic of Ireland.

Finance minister Philip Hammond said there had been a "measurable change in pace" in talks in the last 10 days, but there were "some big differences left to resolve".

Penny Mordaunt, the worldwide development secretary, and Esther McVey, the work and pensions secretary, and Andrea Leadsom have the most significant concerns over the plans, although they did not attend last night's meeting.

The Times newspaper said May was warned the issue was so serious that she could face further cabinet resignations unless she found a way to ensure the backstop was not permanent.

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