EU Brexit chief says UK border offer short on answers

Leroy Wright
June 9, 2018

He said: "The clock is ticking on the Brexit process and it is imperative that an agreement is struck which will protect jobs, the economy and ensure there is no hard border in Northern Ireland".

Mrs May's customs backstop proposal was thrashed out in an intensive series of meetings with senior ministers on Thursday, amid rumours that Brexit Secretary David Davis might resign if it left the United Kingdom in the customs union on an open-ended basis.

Another option would be to remove Northern Ireland from the customs union without a hard border, instead having very light border checks or even none at all.

In an open letter to voters, Best For Britain warned that there was a danger of the political establishment "sleepwalking the country over the Brexit finish line" in March without any clarity over whether the deal will be good for the UK.

Responding, Mrs May told the BBC: "This is a negotiation, Michel Barnier has said exactly that point".

Britain may hope that this wording might still win approval from officials in Brussels, and Mrs May's spokesperson said it was a "matter for the negotiations" as to whether the date became part of a legal text for Britain's withdrawal.

The EU on Friday slammed a British "blame game" in Brexit negotiations and reacted cooly to Britain's latest offer to solve the Irish border problem.

However, the document published on Thursday afternoon after Mrs May had her emergency meeting with Mr Davis and his allies, said that it expected a future deal to be in place by the end of 2021.

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"I am very concerned that by the time we have negotiated this with the European Union we will have a never-ending vassal state status", said Conservative Brexiteer Nigel Mills.

Britain proposed a compromise solution for the Irish border issue on Thursday - a so-called "backstop" proposal - for a temporary customs arrangement that would keep Northern Ireland inside the EU's single market in goods for a temporary period. "The DUP is committed to delivering on the verdict of the 2016 referendum and ensuring that as we exit the European Union, we get the best deal for Northern Ireland and the entire United Kingdom".

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

The Pound was quoted 0.41% lower at 1.3360 against the US Dollar following the press conference, deepening an earlier 0.15% loss, while the Pound-to-Euro rate was 0.03% higher at 1.1379 after paring back an earlier 0.19% gain.

"There's plenty of Brexit news, but irrespective of the news flow we are still in the same position".

The lack of clarity over key issues was eroding the country's trading relationships with businesses overseas and foreign businesses based in Britain, said Hookham.

The assurance came after May held a series of meetings with Brexit supporters in her Cabinet amid reports that David Davis, the minister leading negotiations with the European Union, had threatened to resign because an earlier proposal could have forced Britain to follow the bloc's trade rules indefinitely. "Why? Because it has been designed for the specific situation of Northern Ireland".

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