Former UK Ambassador to EU Says May’s Brexit Plan A ‘Pipe Dream’

Marco Green
October 12, 2018

However, a small Northern Irish party which supports May's minority government in the Westminster parliament vehemently opposes any checks between the province and the rest of Britain.

His comments came after a translation of a speech given by European Union chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier sparked confusion about the state of play in negotiations.

The OBR, an independent non-departmental public body, said it was "next to impossible" to predict the consequences of a no-deal Brexit.

May gathered selected members of her cabinet late Thursday to update them on the Brexit talks, and the Financial Times reported that she told them that a deal was drawing closer. It must be one of the worrying questions for Downing Street. I caught up with her in Brussels and asked her if she thought the Prime Minister had got the message. "Many of her cabinet colleagues have assured me of their unionism", she said.

London hopes to resolve the issue with a future trade deal, but agrees there should be a "backstop" arrangement to avoid physical frontier checks until that deal is done.

The unionist leader said she feared that the European Union was forcing Northern Ireland into a deal that amounted to "the worst of one world" in which the region would remain part of the single market and remain under the ECJ, and would remain subject to trade restrictions with the rest of the UK.

The British government and leading politicians in Northern Ireland insist they will not agree to a withdrawal treaty that foresees the possibility of Northern Ireland being kept inside the EU's economic area while the British mainland is not.

Back to the bluffing though, speaking to another Irish politician his morning, who said a deal is close but that the negotiations are "extremely difficult", they wondered if Arlene Foster would ever follow through her threats to block a Brexit deal and bring down the United Kingdom government.

If the DUP votes against the budget, which will be presented on October 29, this could trigger a confidence motion and a general election if the government loses.

The DUP has stepped up warnings to British Prime Minister Theresa May not to compromise over the border on the island of Ireland in her efforts to secure a Brexit deal.

"And we are still open - we are still open - to the idea of having a customs union with the UK".

However Brexiteers - including Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab - are insisting any arrangement which would see the United Kingdom effectively remain part of the customs union while negotiations over a free trade deal take place must be strictly time-limited - something the EU has been resisting.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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