Former UK Ambassador to EU Says May’s Brexit Plan A ‘Pipe Dream’

Mae Love
October 12, 2018

"And we are still open - we are still open - to the idea of having a customs union with the UK".

London hopes to resolve the issue with a future trade deal, but agrees there should be a "backstop" arrangement to avoid physical frontier checks until that deal is done.

He reiterated the EU's line welcoming May's proposals for a bold free-trade deal "without tariffs or quotas" and close security ties after Brexit.

The challenge for May will be in selling the formulation to the whole cabinet.

Her intervention came as Mrs May met key members of her cabinet in Downing Street to brief them on the progress in the Brexit negotiations.

McVey's formulation echoed that used on Tuesday by Penny Mordaunt, the worldwide development secretary, who said that while "the prime minister can count on my support" she did not know "where this is going to end up".

"They are going to talk a lot over the weekend and consider what they will live with and what they will walk over", the FT quoted one official close to Eurosceptic Cabinet ministers as saying of Leadsom and McVey.

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Commenting on the Irish backstop, Barnier said the EU's plan to keep Northern Ireland in the Single Market and customs union would help keep the border invisible - a goal of both sets of negotiators.

But this could see checks on goods travelling from mainland Britain to Northern Ireland - what Foster described as "an effective one-way turnstile".

Foster alluded to that threat, saying these were "significant days for Northern Ireland and the United Kingdom as we know it" and concluded by saying the DUP and its 10 MPs "will take decisions based on what is best for everyone in Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom".

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.

Theresa May has been put on notice by her allies in the Democratic Unionist Party to change course on Brexit or risk the collapse of her government. They suggested that senior ministers including David Lidington, May's de facto deputy, Northern Ireland secretary Karen Bradley and chief whip Julian Smith would try to find a solution to the DUP's demands.

"An agreement is within reach for Oct 17, next Wednesday, if we succeed to the end of this negotiation now", Barnier said in a speech to business leaders at the European Parliament.

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