Brexit talks in crisis over Irish border ahead of crunch summit

16 October, 2018, 14:46 | Author: Roderick Gutierrez
  • Theresa May Arlene Foster

Up until now, the Prime Minister has repeatedly warned that a failure to back her Brexit strategy would result in a disorderly withdrawal from the bloc.

Theresa May will address the other 27 European Union heads of state on Wednesday evening in a last-ditch bit to win concessions that pave the way for a deal that would be palatable to the United Kingdom parliament.

"And I have to say to her that, in those circumstances, I will not be able to support the Government in this unless this matter is put to the British people again, because it's entirely different from what was discussed and negotiated during the referendum in 2016".

Stressing that her party - which has threatened to cause a political crisis by voting down Philip Hammond's Budget if Mrs May gives way to Brussels - was serious, she said: "The DUP's actions this week are not as some have suggested about "flexing muscle".

But that will be too little, too late to conclude a deal this week, according to ministers attending the EU's foreign affairs council in Luxembourg on Monday.

"The DUP's red lines are actually Theresa May's red lines", he told BBC News.

The Irish border issue remains unsolved.

The DUP leader said that nobody wants to see physical infrastructure on Irish border and expressed hope a sensible Brexit deal can be achieved.

This idea is ridiculed by the DUP, which insists that Northern Ireland must be treated the same as the rest of the UK. To break this deadlock, a proposal has been developed on the introduction of customs control of goods coming into Northern Ireland from great Britain. More than 3,700 people were killed in Northern Ireland amid 30 years of violence between the two groups and Britain, which ended with a 1998 peace deal.

Mrs May's counter-proposal, set out in June, was for a "temporary customs arrangement" for the whole United Kingdom, but Tory Brexiteers are suspicious this could turn into a permanent situation - restricting the freedom to strike trade deals around the world.

Last December, both sides agreed to the so-called "backstop" which would ensure that, regardless of whatever else happens, nothing will lead to the re-emergence of a hard border in Ireland.

Britain has proposed that it would continue to follow European Union customs rules after Brexit as a fall-back option to keep the border open, until a wider trade deal is agreed that avoids the need for frontier checks.

At least one member of May's Cabinet is considering resigning over her Brexit stance and former Brexit Secretary David Davis is rallying Brexit hardliners to rebel.

British Prime Minister Theresa May faces a fight on two fronts this week, battling to convince her own ministers and then Brussels as the Brexit talks come to a crunch.

In the increasing fraught atmosphere at Westminster, Sir John Major accused Tory Brexiteers of "bullying" Mrs May, saying their behaviour was even worse than that of the Eurosceptics he famously dubbed "bastards" when he was in No 10.

The Sinn Féin leadership, including Mary Lou McDonald and Michelle O'Neill, are also to meet British Prime Minister Theresa May and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn in London today.

"He told the BBC's Political Thinking podcast: "'Their behaviour was pretty intolerable, but not almost as intolerable as the way the present Prime Minister is being treated".

"If the Government is putting these proposals into the public domain to test the water, our advice is to get its toe out quickly or it is going to get burnt", Wilson wrote. May's Conservative Party is also divided over how close an economic relationship to seek with the European Union after Brexit, leaving the prime minister in a precarious position.


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