Frosty reception for Theresa May's Brexit backstop plan in Brussels

Frosty reception for Theresa May's Brexit backstop plan in Brussels

Potential barriers to global trade were thrown up by the Government's decision to leave the Customs Union and the Single Market, he claimed.

A campaign funded by Hungarian-US billionaire George Soros on Friday published a "roadmap" for a second vote on Britain's European Union membership as confusion reigns over the country's post-Brexit relationship with the bloc.

Best For Britain is calling on MPs to force a referendum on the deal secured by Prime Minister Theresa May, with an option on the ballot paper of keeping the United Kingdom in the European Union.

The British government is proposing a "temporary" customs arrangement that will delay the prospect of a hard border in Northern Ireland.

The government is considering two possible options in a debate that has exposed a deep rift within May's cabinet between those who favour a clean break with Europe and those willing to accept closer cooperation with Brussels.

But Mr Barnier said the proposal raised a number of relevant and hard issues. Failing that, Ireland wants special status for Northern Ireland so that it could continue to follow European Union rules - but that is exactly what the DUP has rejected. It would have signed us up to the rules of the EU Customs Union (a central pillar of Brussels rule) if it was ever activated.

The Prime Minister was "going to go into a phase where we are much more combative with Brussels", the Cabinet minister said.

Claiming there is "clearly a great deal of work" remaining to be done in Brexit negotiations, Mr Coveney said: "Our strong preference remains an overall EU-UK future relationship which would resolve all issues".

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Benoit Rochet, deputy chief executive officer at the Port of Calais, told British lawmakers on Tuesday: "We know that there is Brexit, but we don't exactly know what Brexit means".

May's proposal would align British trade rules with those of the European Union until a permanent deal is worked out, and the government said Thursday that it expects such an agreement to be in place "by the end of December 2021 at the latest".

He also said a time-limited solution "doesn't suit me", adding a temporary solution is not a "real" backstop.

He said he would continue to examine the backstop paper "objectively" but stressed it would be rejected if it compromised the integrity of the single market and customs union.

"Let me be very clear: our backstop can not be extended to the whole UK. Why?" Members of the customs union can not negotiate their own trade deals with non-members, meaning that leaving the EU heralds the biggest shake-up in British trade for decades.

"I would like the British government to respect its own red lines as well", Barnier said.

"A people's vote will be held before the end of March 2019".

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