Published: Fri, May 18, 2018
World News | By Laverne Osborne

Liam Fox Hits Back At Irish PM Over Brexit No Deal Warning

Liam Fox Hits Back At Irish PM Over Brexit No Deal Warning

Downing Street reportedly believes the proposal would allow ministers to say they have formally left the EU customs union while avoiding a cliff-edge scenario for business in Northern Ireland and the emergence of a hard border with Ireland.

The source said extending the use of European Union tariffs was part of discussions to make the backstop arrangement more palatable to Britain, and could be triggered if there were a delay in the ratification of the Brexit deal or if there were problems introducing new technology at the border.

Arriving at the EU Western Balkans summit in the Bulgarian capital, Sofia, Mrs May denied reports of a climbdown, but following talks with Leo Varadkar, European Council president Donald Tusk and European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker, she confirmed that the UK's alternative "backstop" proposal would be produced "in due course".

The move is created to placate Dublin and Brussels, which have warned they will block a trade deal unless Britain guarantees there will be no "hard border" in Ireland.

Theresa May's cabinet is gripped by open civil war over the future customs relationship.

European Union leaders are due to meet on 29 June, after which it is hoped in London that Brussels will start drafting a political declaration on a future trade deal.

Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley has announced that there would be no high-tech cameras on the border after the UK's withdrawal from the EU.

In an unexpected move to kick-start talks that have been stalled since March, the United Kingdom prime minister pitched her latest plans for post-Brexit customs ties to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron and other leaders gathered in Sofia to discuss the EU's Western Balkans strategy.

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This would have meant that Northern Ireland and mainland Britain had different rules and raised the prospect of a border in the Irish Sea, a possibility greeted with horror by the DUP and many Tories.

The Irish "backstop", or guarantee of no hard border, finds its genesis in paragraph 49.

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Ministers including Boris Johnson, Michael Gove and David Lidington discussed the "backstop" plan for Northern Ireland that will come into force if Mrs May's blueprint for customs arrangements collapses.

She admitted that achieving these "is not easy, it is difficult" but insisted that only her government will deliver on the 2016 referendum vote to leave the EU.

The Times reported that the attorney general - the government's top lawyer - has been asked to provide an urgent legal opinion on both proposals before a decision is taken.

Officials have warned it may not be in place until 2023, the newspaper said.

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