United Kingdom to refuse Brexit bill without trade deal

Marco Green
July 22, 2018

"Agreement on them is necessary prior to us adopting a withdrawal agreement".

The extent of Mrs May's reassurance to unionism may also be linked to next week's first meeting of the British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference for more than a decade - a meeting about which some unionists have been nervous. "The ball is now in the EU's court, and don't get me wrong, there will be plenty more negotiations, I've made that clear, but if they show us the same level of ambition, energy, pragmatism, this deal gets done in 12 weeks", he said.

"We're creating an global legal treaty, so we need legal certainty and legal clarity". Frankly, it would not make us a credible partner for future worldwide agreements'.

Mr Barnier was speaking shortly after Mrs May issued a challenge to Brussels to "evolve" its negotiating position in response to the publication of her Brexit blueprint.

Theresa May has set out a pragmatic case for Northern Ireland remaining within the Union and has said that she will always argue for a constitutional structure which enables four nations to pool and share their resources.

Addressing the Irish border, Barnier was adamant that a "backstop" plan must be in place for any deal to come to fruition. We are doing that work.

Barnier questioned whether the United Kingdom government's Brexit proposals, outlined in a White Paper last week, were "legally feasible" just hours after the PM hailed her plan as a "coherent package".

"And, on that basis, I look forward to resuming constructive discussions".

'You can't have one side fulfilling its side of the bargain and the other side not, or going slow, or failing to commit on its side.

"The protection of the peace process and upholding our binding commitments in the Belfast Agreement are grave responsibilities", she said.

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.

While May is trying to convince Brussels to make concessions on Northern Ireland, she is also trying to shore up support in her Conservative Party after her "white paper" proposals sparked cabinet-level resignations last week.

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.

"Brexit can not and will not justify additional bureaucracy", Barnier said.

Twenty years after the Good Friday Agreement, the return of any form of physical checkpoints or other infrastructure would be "an alien concept".

In the event of a hard no-deal Brexit, the European Union wants a backstop that would effectively create a border down the Irish Sea between the island of Ireland and Great Britain, something May has repeatedly opposed.

"We have proposed one solution but at no point was it our intention to create a border in the Irish sea", Barnier said.

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

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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