May to hold Brexit War Cabinet to agree backstop plan

Cornelia Mascio
Ottobre 12, 2018

The warning, amid continued opposition from May's own Conservative MPs to her Brexit strategy, further raised the stakes as negotiators seek a breakthrough ahead of a summit of European Union leaders on October 18.

Full cabinet members concerned about the idea of an indefinite backstop include Andrea Leadsom, the leader of the Commons, and Esther McVey, the work and pensions secretary, who refused to specifically endorse May's Chequers blueprint for Brexit earlier on Thursday - although she insisted that she was "completely supportive of the prime minister".

DUP leader Arlene Foster has warned Theresa May she can not "in good conscience" recommend a Brexit deal which keeps Northern Ireland in the customs union.

The de-facto Deputy Prime Minister was pressed on the DUP's support when he appeared on ITV's Peston on Wednesday night.

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

The news comes after the Democratic Unionist Party threatened to vote against the Budget, and potentially bring down the Government, in opposition to a backstop plan that would treat Northern Ireland differently to the rest of Great Britain. "Such a lovely morning" is all she would say to me.

He reiterated the EU's line welcoming May's proposals for a bold free-trade deal "without tariffs or quotas" and close security ties after Brexit.

Barnier said that the EU remained open to staying in a customs union with the whole of the United Kingdom, making a hard border unnecessary.

On Wednesday evening, DUP MPs abstained in a minor agricultural vote in Westminster to show they are not afraid to strong-arm the Government over proposed plans for the Irish backstop.

The party's Brexit spokesman Sammy Wilson later explicitly warned the Government against doing a deal that kept Northern Ireland in the Single Market, writing in the Telegraph the party could not support "any deal which includes such economically and constitutionally damaging arrangements".

Commenting on the Irish backstop, Barnier said the EU's plan to keep Northern Ireland in the Single Market and customs union would help keep the border invisible - a goal of both sets of negotiators.

Eurosceptic Conservative MPs who want a clean break with the European Union have expressed alarm at reports that, as it races to get a deal, the government may agree this alignment would last indefinitely.

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