Irish PM says European Union needs decisions from United Kingdom, not internal debate

Blanche Robertson
June 14, 2018

Theresa May has agreed to keep Britain tied to European Union customs rules for a "time limited" period after Brexit, following threats by her Brexit Secretary David Davis to resign.

The Prime Minister has previously said she could never allow a hard border on the island of Ireland, but it has proved a tricky balancing act as her DUP allies will not accept any form of customs arrangement that would set Northern Ireland apart from the rest of the UK.

Exactly a year ago, it looked like May did not have long left in office.

Mrs May, who leads a minority government propped up by the small Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party, conceded yesterday that "we need parliamentary support" to implement Brexit. Within days of this electoral calamity, May was heavily criticized for her response to a genuine disaster - the devastating fire at Grenfell Tower that claimed 71 lives.

Earlier, Mrs May was hit by the resignation of justice minister Phillip Lee, who quit the Government live on stage during a speech in London in order to be able to back Mr Grieve's amendment.

Prime Minister Theresa May's proposal would align British trade rules with those of the European Union until a permanent deal is worked out, and her government has said that it expects such an agreement to be in place by the end of December 2021 at the latest.

They reassured anti-Brexit MPs that the government would accept some of their core demands to give parliament a meaningful say on the terms of Britain's European Union divorce, including - potentially - a new deadline for a deal to be agreed with Brussels that could make it hard for the government.

The Labour leadership this month drafted its own amendment to replace the Lords' one on the EEA, demanding a vote on negotiating a new single market deal with the bloc. Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson told a private dinner, in comments that were recorded and leaked to Buzzfeed, that Donald Trump would make a better negotiator with Brussels on Brexit. That means no border posts or customs checks after Brexit to protect economic links and the hard-won peace on the island of Ireland. A shadow minister and several junior aides had to resign in the process. With the compromise, May has now got more time to hammer out an agreed position on trade with her fractious ministers.

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However, leading Brexiteer Tory MPs and ministers have suggested May had only agreed to further discussions on supporting Tory rebel Dominic Grieve's amendment.

That it is possible for Britain to enjoy frictionless trade with the European Union and at the same time be free to strike its own trade deals.

Things were looking similarly grim for opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn, whose Labour Party led something of a revolt during the EEA vote.

It seems that May will survive as Prime Minister - for now at least.

Labour's Caroline Flint, who backed Remain in the 2016 referendum, told MPs staying in the Single Market would not deal with many voters' concerns about immigration. But she managed to avert defeat, by brokering a last minute deal that staved off a rebellion from within her own Conservative party.

May defused a rebellion in the parliament on Tuesday over her Brexit plans after she was forced to compromise and hand lawmakers greater control over Britain's exit from the EU.

Potential Tory rebels held back from a threatened revolt on Tuesday after a face-to-face meeting in which the Prime Minister was said to have offer "personal assurances" on concessions.

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