United Kingdom must be able to withdraw from Irish backstop — Liam Fox

Blanche Robertson
November 9, 2018

In the letter, Mrs May said she would never allow a divide between the Northern Ireland and Britain "to come into force".

The PM's five-page letter, leaked to The Times, was sent on Tuesday to Arlene Foster, the DUP leader, and Nigel Dodds, her deputy.

This wording has been interpreted by the DUP to mean the clause will nevertheless be inserted into the legally-binding agreement, the paper reported.

DUP leader Arlene Foster said the letter "raised alarm bells for those who value the integrity of our precious Union and for those who want a proper Brexit for the whole of the UK".

Any version of the backstop would apply unless and until a wider UK-EU deal on the future relationship solved the issue of how to avoid a hard border with Ireland.

Mrs May needs the ten DUP votes to help get her Brexit plan through the Commons.

In the leaked letter, the prime minister also told the DUP she "would not accept being kept in a backstop arrangement indefinitely", while it would be "totally unacceptable" for a time limit to the UK-wide backstop arrangement to then simply result in the Northern Ireland-only solution being adopted.

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Jacob Rees-Mogg told The Times: 'None of this works at all.

Fox rejected the idea that the backstop could be ended by mutual agreement with the European Union, telling reporters that Britain could not "sub contract" the decision to the other side.

There had been reports that Cabinet will be called for a special session to approve the deal in the coming days. She will hold meetings today with French president Emmanuel Macron and Belgian prime minister Charles Michel.

Should that be possible, European Union and British Brexit negotiators would recommend that "decisive progress" has been achieved in Brexit talks and the European Union would call a special summit of its 27 national leaders to endorse it.

"The government will not agree to anything that brings about a hard border on the island of Ireland", the spokesman said.

In response, Mrs May's letter claimed the EU is demanding a "backstop to the backstop", which would keep Northern Ireland tied to the customs union to prevent a hard border with the Irish Republic should the United Kingdom as a whole pull out of the initial backstop without a deal.

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