United Kingdom mulls extending European Union customs arrangements beyond transition

Brexit - UK seeking previously unthought of 'third way' around the Northern Ireland customs border impasse

Brexit - UK seeking previously unthought of 'third way' around the Northern Ireland customs border impasse

The prime minister is boxed in by Brexiteers who despise her customs partnership model, and by the European Union and Dublin who will not accept the so-called maximum facilitation option, which foresees technology and customs exemptions as the way forward.

Sources said it would only be invoked if new customs technology needed to prevent the creation of a "hard border" in Ireland is not ready by the end of the Brexit transition in December 2020.

No.10 sources insisted "there was not a proposal discussed or agreed that would see us staying in the customs union beyond the implementation period", which expires at the end of 2020.

Damien Green is one of the Prime Minister's closest allies.

The latest Ipsos MRBI Irish Times opinion poll indicates that Varadkar has some leeway in how he handles the Brussels summit with a sizeable segment of the electorate believing the Government should allow the Brexit talks to proceed even if there is no progress on the Border issue.

The UK government has vowed to find an arrangement that will avoid the need for border checks between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, and to table a "backstop" solution involving regulatory alignment with the EU.

The tariffs govern the duties levied on goods arriving in the customs union, the EU's trading bloc, which Britain is now a member of.

"The negotiations are continuing on what a workable backstop looks like - those negotiations haven't concluded", the spokeswoman said.

"I think what the Labour Party would be saying if the government could only negotiate that far they will have failed, the United Kingdom they would have failed actually the agreement that they have made with the European Union already and we want a general election to resolve that, because in the end that would be the way forward for the whole of the country".

"If we are not making real and substantial progress by June then we need to seriously question whether we're going to have a Withdrawal Agreement at all", he told reporters on Thursday.

With the Irish Republic to have the only European Union land border with Britain after Brexit, Varadkar repeated a warning that failure to achieve genuine progress on the customs issue by next month would cast doubt on sealing an overall withdrawal agreement by an October deadline.

In another move, Labour is also attempting to force a binding vote in the House of Commons requiring the Government to publish Cabinet papers on the two customs options being considered by ministers.

Downing Street has announced that the Prime Minister confirmed to her Cabinet that the Government is producing a white paper on its proposed future relationship with the EU.

Britain also wants to be able to forge its own trade deals with non-EU countries.

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