Published: Fri, October 12, 2018
Money | By Ralph Mccoy

British PM May briefs inner Cabinet that Brexit deal is close - FT

British PM May briefs inner Cabinet that Brexit deal is close - FT

Theresa May will on Thursday ask her Brexit "war Cabinet" to agree a backstop plan that would keep Britain in a customs union with Brussels until a permanent trade deal can be agreed.

Hard Brexiters are concerned the United Kingdom could remain locked into the backstop arrangements indefinitely, particularly if it proves difficult to conclude a free trade deal.

The plan would also involve keeping Northern Ireland in the single market to help maintain frictionless trade across the border with the Republic while mainland Britain would be outwith the single market.

The DUP has threatened to vote against the government's budget if it goes ahead with the plan.

The party's Brexit spokesman Sammy Wilson later explicitly warned the Government against doing a deal that kept Northern Ireland in the Single Market, writing in the Telegraph the party could not support "any deal which includes such economically and constitutionally damaging arrangements".

He added the Northern Ireland party can not be bribed and "no one should underestimate their resolve".

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.

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The issue of the Irish border, the major sticking point, was "close to being settled", it said.

It will follow another Whitehall meeting of the Joint Ministerial Committee, which will be attended by Mr Lidington and his colleagues Dominic Raab, the Brexit Secretary, and David Mundell, the Scottish Secretary.

Both the European Union and Britain have signalled progress in recent days, boosting sentiment in financial markets which fear the most damaging no-deal Brexit.

Last night, it was suggested a group of up to 30 Tory Remainers were considering forming a rival campaign to fight Jacob Rees-Mogg's European Research Group of Eurosceptics with the aim of voting down Mrs May's Brexit deal because of fears it would wreck the economy.

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.

Earlier on Thursday, May told Northern Ireland journalists that Irish border talks would likely continue until November.

"Intensive technical negotiations are continuing to see if we can reach the decisive progress we were referring to yesterday".

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