United Kingdom leader in compromise with ministers on Ireland border


If the Prime Minister loses the votes, which some reports have suggested she might, then the United Kingdom will be required by law to remain a member of the EU single market and customs union and the House of Commons will have the power to send government back to the negotiating table if MPs are not happy with the final arrangements negotiated by Theresa May.

May last month proposed a UK-EU "customs partnership", a hybrid solution allowing the UK to remain in the EU customs union while being able to independently trade with other countries outside the bloc.

The group's chair Mark Malloch Brown acknowledged a second poll could confirm the Leave vote, and pledged that Best For Britain would respect the result whichever way it went. The UK is now challenging a recommendation by the European Union's Anti-Fraud organisation (OLAF) to recover €1.9 billion in customs duties the UK failed to collect.

"The U.K. calls this arrangement temporary", said Barnier at a press conference in Brussels.

"Of the eight demands made in FTA's list of essentials to "Keep Britain Trading" issued at the beginning of the year, not a single one has been progressed", he says.

British and European businesses are sounding increasingly urgent warnings about the economic damage the U.K.'s exit from the European Union could cause, as the U.K.'s two biggest political parties acknowledged Wednesday that they remain deeply divided over post-Brexit trade and customs arrangements. Alternatively, the European Union may ask for a second backstop option without any time limitations specific to Northern Ireland. "Because it has been designed for the specific situation of Northern Ireland".

Others questioned the substance of the proposal.

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There must be no "a la carte" access to the single market, Barnier said, under which Britain could have access without applying European Union rules including open access to European Union immigration. The government acknowledges that an approach on regulatory standards will also be needed to avoid a hard border.

"The EU has to walk in a new direction now if it wants to survive". "How does that fit with the requirements of our Value-Added Tax system?" "Time is running out", Barnier said. "That's probably a given", Mr Davis said."But what she (Mrs May) said today is exactly right that the White Paper will be published when it's ready, it's up to quality, and is exactly what we need to say".

"It would tie us effectively into the EU's customs arrangement for an indefinite period", he said.

"If we want to build a new relationship, there needs to be more trust but also needs to be more realism about what is possible and not possible".

After his talks with the prime minister, Mr Davis's chief of staff, Stewart Jackson, claimed victory by posting on Twitter: "Helpful dialogue".

But he said: "Theresa May and her team have agreed to the backstop in the March agreement and there is no question of backtracking on that". The UK is also very insistent on the use of the word "temporary" in relation to the customs arrangement.