Ireland can not let United Kingdom decide Brexit backstop end, says Varadkar

Senator Neale Richmond who chairs the Seanad’s Brexit Committee clashed with Tory MP Owen Paterson

Senator Neale Richmond who chairs the Seanad’s Brexit Committee clashed with Tory MP Owen Paterson

Reports at the weekend suggested that the EU is now ready to contemplate concessions which would keep all of the United Kingdom in a temporary customs union following the end of a transition period due to end on December 31 2020.

According to the Telegraph, May has included Attorney General Geoffrey Cox, the government's chief legal adviser, in her special Brexit Cabinet after ministers said they wouldn't sign off on a deal without his advice.

They believe it would prevent Britain securing new free trade deals with other countries, and would break the Conservatives' manifesto promise to leave the customs union.

"The Tanaiste couldn't have been clearer that a time-limited backstop or a backstop that could be ended by the United Kingdom unilaterally would never be agreed to by Ireland or the EU".

The Sunday Times report said preparations for a final Brexit deal were "far more advanced than previously disclosed" and that May's agreement would satisfy both remain-voting Tories and the hardline Eurosceptics within her party.

The Sunday Times reported that the EU would allow the creation of a whole-UK customs union that would avoid the need for a Northern Ireland border "backstop" that has been at the heart of the impasse in negotiations.

The Department for Exiting the European Union (DEXEU) said: "We wouldn't comment on private meetings".

An all-UK customs deal could be written into the withdrawal agreement, avoiding the need for a "backstop" for Northern Ireland.

Under the concessions, the European Union is said to have accepted that regulatory checks on goods be allowed to take place "in market" - effectively meaning that checks can be done in places like factories, rather than at the border between the two countries.

The UK statement did not refer to the Irish position that the mechanism could not involve a unilateral decision to end the backstop.

A spokesperson said: "The prime minister has been clear that we are making good progress on the future relationship and 95pc of the Withdrawal Agreement is now settled and negotiations are ongoing".

Mr Johnson dismissed suggestions that the arrangement would lead the way to a Canada-style trade deal, arguing that the joint UK/EU political declaration on the future relationship due to be released alongside the withdrawal agreement will be "worthless".

Speaking to Sky News on Monday on whether Theresa May can get a Parliamentary majority to pass her Chequers Plan, which would leave the United Kingdom tied to numerous bloc's regulations, Mr Farage said: "In classic Brussels style, at the 11th hour there will be a deal, I've no doubt about that".

Without such a development, sources suggested the only viable option would be to leave the deal until the leaders' summit in Brussels on 13 December.

"He recalled the prior commitments made that the backstop must apply "unless and until" alternative arrangements are agreed".

He replied: "Well, we want to get that deal, we're obviously working hard to see that that happens".

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