Brexit deal next week 'within reach': Barnier

Irving Hamilton
October 12, 2018

Full cabinet members concerned about the idea of an indefinite backstop include Andrea Leadsom, the leader of the Commons, and Esther McVey, the work and pensions secretary, who refused to specifically endorse May's Chequers blueprint for Brexit earlier on Thursday - although she insisted that she was "completely supportive of the prime minister".

Suspicions remain among hardline Tory Brexiteers that Mrs May is heading for a compromise which could tie the United Kingdom to European Union customs arrangements indefinitely - something which Boris Johnson has warned would reduce Britain to a "permanent European Union colony".

The Northern Ireland party, which backs Theresa May's minority Conservative government in key votes at Westminster, has made it clear the radical move is on the table if the prime minister breaches their red lines in the Brexit negotiations.

Numerous problems are now being solved on a step by step basis "but there are, of course" several big issues which we really need to get to grips with, ' the prime minister said.

Instead she proposed Britain as a whole stay temporarily aligned with the EU's customs union until a wider trade deal is agreed.

Scottish Minister David Mundell suggested the DUP would come around, saying the alternative was either a government led by opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn or a Brexit next March without any deal at all. "That was the case on Monday and it remains the case today", the prime minister's official spokesman said. It must be one of the worrying questions for Downing Street.

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Barnier said customs forms could be completed in advance online and the "only visible systematic checks" would involve scanning bar codes on lorries or containers on ferries or in ports.

"The only visible systematic checks between Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom would involve scanning the bar codes on lorries or containers, which should be done on ferries or in transit ports".

A Brexit deal is "within reach" next week, European Union negotiator Michel Barnier said on Wednesday (Oct 10), even as he rammed home his insistence that Britain must accept possible checks on trade between its mainland and Northern Ireland.

Michelle O'Neill, Sinn Fein's vice-president, responded by saying that "the DUP does not speak for the majority of the people of the north on Brexit".

Both sides want to avoid a return to checkpoints on the Irish border as this would hinder trade and risk reigniting violence in the province two decades after a peace deal.

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