Theresa May secures 'secret Brexit deal to keep United Kingdom in customs union'

Leroy Wright
November 5, 2018

Leo Varadkar's office released a statement after May called him on Monday morning in which he said while Ireland was open to the possibility of "a review mechanism" for the backstop, the United Kingdom could not exclusively determine how to use it.

But Downing Street has reportedly dismissed the report as "speculation".

In a tweet on Monday Mr Coveney said: "The Irish position remains consistent and very clear that a "time-limited backstop" or a backstop that could be ended by United Kingdom unilaterally would never be agreed to by Ireland or EU".

Brexit is fraying Britain's relationship with Ireland, the country's prime minister Leo Varadkar has warned.

The backstop is an arrangement that applies if the Irish border can not be kept frictionless during a wider deal.

The divisions emerged as Theresa May's top Brexit negotiator, Olly Robbins, prepares to go to Brussels to clinch an in-principle Brexit divorce deal this week, triggering an extraordinary European Union leaders summit later this month in order to cement the deal.

"Negotiations are still very firmly continuing, and therefore we are 95% of the way there in relation to the Withdrawal Agreement. The prime minister has been clear that we are making good progress on the future relationship, and 95 percent of the withdrawal agreement is now settled and negotiations are ongoing".

However, reaction to the putative deal - estimated at 50 pages rather than a brief, bullet-pointed document - has been mixed, with Cabinet sources saying parts "could have been written by Jacob Rees-Mogg".

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The Taoiseach also said the UK's withdrawal from the bloc had undermined the historic Good Friday Agreement that ended three decades of violence in Northern Ireland and called for a guarantee that there would be no return of a hard border with the Republic.

May is under intense pressure from several members of her cabinet to secure a mechanism by which any backstop agreements can be time limited and able to be terminated by the UK.

"In March the United Kingdom agreed this backstop will apply "unless and until" a close future relationship eliminates any need for border infrastructure or related checks and controls".

"This has been committed to by the United Kingdom in order to have a withdrawal agreement".

'I am assuming the Government will stick to its manifesto commitment to leaving the customs union when we leave the EU'.

Chief Executives from Waterstones, Innocent Drinks and Lastminute.com stated that the United Kingdom faces either a "blindfold or a destructive hard Brexit" in the note.

Other people who put their name to the letter include Cobra Beer founder Lord Bilimoria, the former Marks and Spencer chairman and ex-Labour peer Lord Myners, Alex Chesterman, the founder of the Zoopla property website, and Sir Simon Robertson, the ex-chairman of Rolls-Royce.

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