Sunday, 19 August, 2018

Britain's May in Northern Ireland to push her Brexit vision

Dominic Raab will hold his first round of talks with Michel Barnier today Dominic Raab will hold his first round of talks with Michel Barnier today Credit Jack Taylor Getty Images Europe
Russell Knight | 22 July, 2018, 12:54

"The payments would fall for us to pay no matter what under worldwide law", Morse said.

The DUP are against the EU's proposed "backstop", which would effectively create a trade barrier in the Irish Sea.

"We have to sit down with the British and find out how much room of manoeuvre they have", the source added.

During a phone exchange, the aide reportedly said: "The Prime Minister will be in - I'll spell it for you in case I mispronounce it - F-e-r-m-a-n-a-g-h".

European Union officials said despite the long wait for the UK's position on the future partnership, the white paper, and the political turmoil in London, the bloc was keen to send a positive message on the white paper.

Speaking after a lengthy discussion on the UK's Brexit white paper with ministers of the EU27, Brussels' chief negotiator refused to reject the proposal entirely, saying there were "some positives and negatives".

In a speech to politicians and business leaders in Belfast's docklands, May accepted a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic once Britain leaves the bloc would be "almost inconceivable", but dismissed the EU's current plan as "unworkable".

She took on the argument of prominent Eurosceptics including Jacob Rees-Mogg, who say the United Kingdom should simply declare it will impose no checks on its side of the Irish border and leave it to Brussels to decide whether to require the Republic to erect barriers on the other.

Mr Raab said critics were mistaken to think Mrs May would not walk away without a deal if she had to.

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"Not to seek a solution would be to resume our career as an independent sovereign trading nation by betraying commitments to a part of our nation and to our nearest neighbour".

The comments came as a poll suggested 16% of voters think May is handling negotiations well, while 34% believe the former foreign secretary Boris Johnson would do a better job.

In an apparent jibe at the political turmoil ripping the Conservative Party apart, Barnier said "intense" debate about the direction of Brexit is "not over".

This leaves the Prime Minister more or less at the mercy of Brussels, as if they do not accept her Chequers plan she is out of alternative options - except, perhaps, not leaving the European Union at all, which she recently threatened was a possibility if Brexiteers did not back her.

In a withering assessment of Mrs May's plan on Friday, Barnier ripped up her proposals on customs arrangements, including collecting tariffs and resolving the issue of the Irish border.

After the Irish Times sought clarification on where exactly Mrs May would be visiting during her two-day trip to the North, a 10 Downing Street spokesperson provided a response which many have claimed sums up Westminster's attitude towards Northern Ireland.

The UK's new Brexit secretary says he is still persuading other cabinet ministers that the government strategy for leaving the European Union is the "best plan".

This would be based on the Commission's proposal but "not necessarily" stick precisely to the outline released in March, he said.

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