May has EU concessions to keep United Kingdom in customs union

Glen Norman
November 5, 2018

The key sticking point remains how to avoid customs checks taking place at the border between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic, without putting up new barriers between Northern Ireland and the British mainland.

The leader of the Best for Britain campaign for a second referendum, Eloise Todd, said: "When the history of Brexit is written in a few years' time the backstop and the UK's decisions around it will be held up as an example of how not to negotiate".

Britain wants instead to keep the whole U.K.in an EU customs union, but only temporarily.

Irish deputy prime minister Simon Coveney said that a time-limited backstop will never be agreed to by Ireland or the EU.

Downing Street officials misled ministers at the time.


However, in order for the EU to accept this compromise, Mrs May must convince her colleagues and the DUP to agree that Northern Ireland can only opt out of the customs union when another mechanism of ensuring a soft Border is agreed.

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".

The PM has secured "private concessions" from Brussels that the whole of the United Kingdom will be allowed to remain in a customs union with the EU after Brexit occurs in March, according to The Sunday Times' political editor Tim Shipman.

Under the concessions, the European Union is said to have accepted that regulatory checks on goods be allowed to take place "in market" - effectively meaning that checks can be done in places like factories, rather than at the border between the two countries.

"I think it is possible to get a deal in November", he said.


"We continue to make good progress in the negotiations but there is work still to do", the prime minister's official spokesman said.

The deal keeps open the possibility of Britain securing a future free trade agreement similar to the one signed between Canada and the European Union in 2016.

Speaking to Sky News on Monday on whether Theresa May can get a Parliamentary majority to pass her Chequers Plan, which would leave the United Kingdom tied to numerous bloc's regulations, Mr Farage said: "In classic Brussels style, at the 11th hour there will be a deal, I've no doubt about that".

"This is the backstop", he added, saying the United Kingdom had agreed that it would apply "unless and until" a close future relationship eliminated any need for Border infrastructure and checks. "Are we being hurtled toward a Hotel California Brexit where we can check out but never leave?" "That is why we are increasingly positive on the expectation of reaching a deal", he added.

"Unless they support it, they will be personally responsible for causing a no-deal Brexit", May is believed to planning to tell Brexit-backing ministers.


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