Thursday, 13 December, 2018

UK PM Theresa May says Brexit deal is close - Financial Times reports

Theresa May urged MPs to act in the national interest over Brexit at Prime Minister's Questions Theresa May urged MPs to act in the national interest over Brexit at Prime Minister's Questions
Jean Garcia | 12 October, 2018, 16:30

One key obstacle remaining is the Irish border issue - on how to keep the new EU-UK land border with Northern Ireland open as it becomes the EU's new external border on the island of Ireland.

Mr Wilson said his party had "a duty to use whatever influence we have" to protect Northern Ireland's place within the Union.

The UK and the European Union have yet to strike a deal on how Brexit will work, with less than six months to go before the UK leaves on 29 March.

Sammy Wilson, the DUP's Brexit spokesman, warned the PM was pursuing "the road to parliamentary defeat" because his party would vote against any deal that included the proposed backstop, branded a "sell-out".

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

There have been reports the prime minister may be preparing to concede on this point, speculation that has sparked talk of possible ministerial resignations if Mrs May is viewed to be giving too much ground to the EU.

Media captionHelen Grant on the DUP: "I think they are bluffing". Michael Russell will be there representing the Scottish Government and is expected to once again sound the alarm about the damage to Scotland's economy a hard or no-deal Brexit would do.

Mr Coveney said: "It is a deal breaker".

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Earlier, Brexiteer cabinet minister Esther McVey pointedly refused to endorse Mrs May's Chequers blueprint for Brexit, although she insisted Mrs May had her full support.

The EU proposed a "backstop" solution to keep the Northern Ireland in the bloc's customs union and parts of the single market that underpins the 1998 peace agreement there - an option British prime minister Theresa May has rejected so far arguing it would create a border within the United Kingdom, in the North Sea between Northern Ireland and the mainland UK.

Sir Ivan Rogers, the UK's former ambassador to the European Union, dismissed both options in a speech in Cambridge, saying the chances of the EU agreeing to either was "precisely zero" and that there had been "culpable naivety" in the negotiations.

Michel Barnier, the EU's chief Brexit negotiator, said yesterday that a deal on the Withdrawal Agreement is "within reach", but only if Britain remains in a customs union with the EU.

In a move seen by some as a warning shot, DUP MPs failed to back the British government in voting against a Labour amendment to an Agriculture Bill outlining post-Brexit reforms last night.

"Our position is that this future economic relationship needs to be in place by the end of December 2021 at the latest".

Arlene Foster, the DUP leader, said on Thursday afternoon that the prime minister could not "in good conscience" recommend such a deal and vowed to oppose it. If I was her, I would say: 'Tell me what your solution is.' And I'll suspect they'll say to her: 'No, you go work out the solution, ' which is a little unreasonable really.

The EU and United Kingdom have agreed that these checks "cannot be performed at the border" and the EU proposes to carry them out "in the least intrusive way possible", he said.

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