Published: Fri, June 08, 2018
Money | By Armando Alvarado

Government publish customs "backstop" plan after last minute talks

Government publish customs

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May addresses the House of Commons in London, March 14, 2018.

While a compromise appears to have been reached, the position paper - which is still to be agreed by Brussels - says the United Kingdom only "expects" the new customs arrangements to be in place by December 2021, suggesting the backstop could be extended.

He said that Brussels wants to keep its proposals - which would see Northern Ireland stay aligned to European Union rules while the rest of the United Kingdom leaves. "Our backstop can not be extended to the whole United Kingdom why because it has been designed for the specific situation of Northern Ireland", he said, adding that what was "feasible" for the relatively small territory of Northern Ireland was not necessarily feasible for all of the United Kingdom. It is another demonstration of the Prime Minister's commitment to the Union.

'What is feasible in Northern Ireland is not feasible for the rest of the United Kingdom'.

"We must also remember that the backstop will only be used as a last resort".

But Tanaiste Simon Coveney warned that unless there was a legally-binding assurance that a hard border would be avoided "in all circumstances", there could be no progress on other elements of the Brexit talks.

"Clearly, a great deal of work remains to be done and this needs to be the highest priority for all sides in the weeks ahead".

Under the United Kingdom proposal, Britain would remain within a partial customs union with the EU for a limited period.

But Mrs May maintained it was right to have a fallback option ready in case the process was delayed "for technical reasons".

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British Prime Minister Theresa May forged a compromise with senior members of her government Thursday, agreeing that any interim arrangement to maintain customs links with the European Union after the United Kingdom leaves the bloc would be expected to last until the end of 2021 at the latest.

It is understood that around 40 MPs have indicated they are willing to sign up to an appropriately worded amendment, which would be set against whatever legislation May introduces to give a the go-ahead for the final deal the government has brought back from its Brussels negotiations.

"Some Brexiteers are cheering this non-win over the "expected" leaving date".

He said the European Union can not accept a backstop plan which has a date enshrined in it - warning that "backstop means backstop" and must not be time limited.

He added: 'The other point of disagreement is how temporary the backstop would be - backstop means backstop'.

A source close to Davis told HuffPost UK: "Obviously there's been a back and forth on this paper, as there always is whenever the government publishes anything".

The prime minister also held separate face-to-face discussions in her parliamentary office with the two other leading Brexiteers, foreign secretary Boris Johnson and global trade secretary Liam Fox. None of the three ministers threatened to resign during the discussions, a spokeswoman for Mr May said.

But the customs boss defended the figure when he appeared before MPs and said a "similar" amount would be lost if the government fails to secure an agreement with Brussels. We will examine it with 3 questions: is it a workable solution to avoid a hard border?

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