Hold tight for a Brexit breakthrough, May tells Cabinet
Hold tight for a Brexit breakthrough, May tells Cabinet
Norwegian soldiers run for cover during an attempt to storm an opposing British Army position
06 November, 2018, 21:58
But notes passed to the BBC suggest that ministers are not where they wanted to be, and had even hoped to review the Brexit divorce deal today, and announce decisive progress this week.
Mr Barnier himself said a breakthrough on the Irish border issue was not close.
Theresa May is expected to brief her cabinet today on proposals to avoid a hard border in Ireland through a UK-wide customs arrangement that would eliminate most checks on goods. To ease Conservative fears that the United Kingdom could effectively stay in the EU customs union indefinitely, preventing trade deals with other countries, Downing Street is pushing for a review mechanism that would allow the United Kingdom to exit the arrangement.
Reworking Theresa May's Brexit catchphrase, Barnier said: "Backstop means backstop".
Following the cabinet meeting, Mrs May's spokesman said: "The prime minister said she was confident of reaching a deal".
"While the United Kingdom should aim to conclude the Withdrawal Agreement as soon as possible, this would not be done at any cost".
The Prime Minister said any agreement will be dependent on an "acceptable" framework for future relations in areas like trade and security, expected to be covered in a separate political declaration.
Downing Street later said there is no further cabinet meeting scheduled this week in order for ministers to reach an agreement on Brexit, although one could be held "at the appropriate moment".
Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney has insisted that a time-limited Brexit backstop will never be agreed by the Irish Government or the EU.
The EU's proposal that Northern Ireland would remain in the customs union and in the single market for goods, has been rejected by London. "Backstop means backstop. And a backstop can not have a time-limit".
However, sources said there was immediate disagreement over whether the proposal would give the United Kingdom the power to unilaterally call time on the backstop, with both the home secretary, Sajid Javid, and the foreign secretary, Jeremy Hunt, arguing that it must.
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Speaking in the Irish parliament on Tuesday, Mr Varadkar repeated his red lines.
Varadkar separately told reporters that an expiry date of that nature would not be worth the paper it is written on.
It added that "the outcome of any such review could not involve a unilateral decision to end the backstop".
"I'm open to creative solutions and creative language but we will not resile from our fundamental resolution, the backstop can not have a time limit or an exit clause", he continued.
Meanwhile, the European Commission dismissed reports over the weekend that a Brexit deal has been privately agreed after major concessions from Brussels.
"What is missing is a solution for the issue of Ireland".
A senior DUP MP has said the United Kingdom is heading for a no-deal Brexit. In addition, United Kingdom won't have to pay a penny more to European Union, which means big increase for Dublin.
"Can't understand why Irish Government seems so intent on this course".
It has so far suggested a backstop that would see the United Kingdom as a whole remaining aligned with the EU customs union, possibly for a limited time.
Asked if Labour would vote against a customs union option unless it was permanent, Mr McDonnell told BBC2's Newsnight: 'Yeah, I think so, because... we'll see what she comes back with and we will be straight and honest with people, if it doesn't protect jobs and the economy we can't support it.
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