May will not agree withdrawal deal with EU "at any cost"

Rupa Haq MP Trevor Phillips Ayesha Hazarika Neema Begum and Sunder Katwala at the Queen Mary panel. Credit Jonathan Cole

In response, Sir Jeffrey said Dublin's stance was making a no-deal Brexit likely.

Mrs May is expected to brief the Cabinet on progress in talks when members gather for their weekly meeting at 10 Downing Street on Tuesday.

Mrs May hopes negotiations can be concluded at an European Union leaders' meeting in late November or at a Brussels summit on 13 and 14 December.

Theresa May is expected to brief her cabinet today on proposals to avoid a hard border in Ireland through a UK-wide customs arrangement that would eliminate most checks on goods.
To ease Conservative fears that the United Kingdom could effectively stay in the EU customs union indefinitely, preventing trade deals with other countries, Downing Street is pushing for a review mechanism that would allow the United Kingdom to exit the arrangement.

Lisa Chambers, the Brexit spokesperson of Irish party Fianna Fáil, which similarly supports Varadkar's government in parliament, said that his willingness to consider a review process was a "significant and potentially hazardous change in direction".

London wants the backstop to be provisional rather than permanent, while the European Union resists any suggestion it could expire. The focus was on the way in which the United Kingdom could leave the EU customs union.

Theresa May has told her senior ministers to clear their diaries for an emergency cabinet meeting within days after she won partial backing for a compromise proposal on Ireland to unlock Brexit negotiations.

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Mrs May has been boosted by Mr Varadkar's willingness to negotiate a review mechanism, thought to be part of proposals for the United Kingdom to enter an effective customs union with the EU under a backstop arrangement to prevent a hard Irish border. The agreement would "not be done at any cost", her official spokesman said. It added that "the outcome of any such review could not involve a unilateral decision to end the backstop".

The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Development (DAERA) in Northern Ireland also issued advice on its website. Without an operational backstop there will not be an accord and there will not be a transition period.

"Looks like we're heading for no deal", he tweeted.

The DUP is opposed to a Northern Ireland-specific backstop, since, if it came into effect, it would require Northern Ireland to be more closely aligned with the EU's customs and trade rules than the rest of the UK.

Labour shadow chancellor John McDonnell has signalled his party will vote against the United Kingdom being in an effective customs union with the EU for a temporary period after Brexit.

Mr Matheson, speaking in Treasury questions, said: 'The Government's own figures demonstrate between a 2% and 8% hit on the broader economy on Brexit, so isn't it the case that there is no form of Brexit that won't have a massive impact on the public finances and therefore on public services?'

"A choice between a no-deal Brexit and a no-clue Brexit is no choice at all".


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