European Union makes direct appeal to Northern Irish firms on Brexit backstop

Roman Schwartz
October 12, 2018

British and European Union negotiators making headway on the Irish border hope for a Brexit deal breakthrough on Monday, diplomats said, though the British prime minister's Northern Ireland ally has stoked uncertainty by warning it could vote against her.

THERESA May will chair a meeting of her War Cabinet of senior ministers today to try to agree an Irish backstop plan that would keep all of the United Kingdom in the European customs union until a full trade deal can be agreed with Brussels.

He said no deal would "quite simply be a disaster for business in Northern Ireland", where consumers already have half the disposable income of households in Britain.

"The Prime Minister is a unionist. I think Brexit brings no added value, this is a negative negotiation, it is a lose-lose game, where nobody stands to win", Barnier said in the speech that was met with a standing ovation from small business leaders.

This, however, would raise the prospect of increased regulation checks between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.

"In breaking her promises she would be agreeing to break up the United Kingdom", Sammy Wilson said.

But this could see checks on goods travelling from mainland Britain to Northern Ireland - what Foster described as "an effective one-way turnstile".

What can we expect when Storm Callum hits Edinburgh?
A yellow warning for wind is in place for Northern Ireland from 3am on Friday morning until just before midnight on Friday night. It means southern parts of Wales especially are at risk of being flooded. "There could be localised flooding issues".

As the rhetoric from Belfast intensifies and the DUP doubles down on its opposition to any checks on trade between Britain and Northern Ireland, Sabine Weyand, the deputy to the chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, told a delegation of Northern Irish business leaders invited to Brussels this week that the deal on the table was "the best the European Union has ever offered any country in the world".

He added: "If they (the government) decide to cave in to the unreasonable and unnecessary demands which are being promoted by Brussels, then we will have to consider whether or not they have kept their side of the bargain".

An angry DUP, whose 10 MPs prop up the Conservative Government, threatened to vote down the Autumn Budget, and last night sent a warning shot by abstaining in a vote on a Labour amendment to the Agriculture Bill.

Barnier earlier in the day briefed European Union commissioners on the negotiations.

The OBR, an independent non-departmental public body, said it was "next to impossible" to predict the consequences of a no-deal Brexit.

The DUP has 10 MPs, although Ian Paisley can not vote in the Commons until November 20 after being suspended for failing to declare two family holidays paid for by the Sri Lankan government.

But he stuck to the EU's rejection of London's plan for a "regulatory framework for goods", saying it would give Britain an unfair competitive advantage by allowing access to parts of the bloc's single market without ensuring the country honours all of its conditions.

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