Published: Sat, October 13, 2018
Worldwide | By Jermaine Blake

Ireland 'cannot accept' Brexit backstop time limit, Republic's deputy PM says

Ireland 'cannot accept' Brexit backstop time limit, Republic's deputy PM says

However, he says there are still some big differences left to resolve.

Parliament has demanded a "meaningful vote" on the divorce deal, and the Prime Minister's slim majority - plus her reliance on votes from her unionist allies in Northern Ireland - means she could fall at the first hurdle.

The customs union proposal was advanced by Brussels as a way of keeping the Irish border open if no definitive trade deal is reached.

The EU side has indicated progress on future management of the 500-km-long border but diplomats in Brussels signalled the lifespan of any such emergency frontier fix was still not agreed.

Speaking on RTÉ's News at One programme, he said people should be realistic about time frames.

Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab has said he is confident Britain would be able to negotiate such agreements with the likes of France, Belgium, and the Netherlands.

The second part of the plan would see Northern Ireland stay in both the customs union and the EU single market. Negotiators are looking for creative wording to square that circle.

But for all the cautious positivity coming from the European Union side, May's Northern Irish supporters vehemently oppose any post-Brexit checks between the province and the rest of Britain.

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The future of the border between Northern Ireland and Ireland has proved to be a key issue in the Brexit talks.

She added that the plan for checks on goods was "a one-way turnstile, which could restrict trade from Great Britain to Northern Ireland" and said it was "the worst of one world".

She reportedly pitched her solution to the Northern Ireland "backstop", a major sticking point in the negotiations that has bitterly divided her party and caused friction with the EU.

"The Prime Minister would never agree to a deal which would trap the United Kingdom in a backstop permanently", a spokeswoman told the BBC.

The Times newspaper reported that May could face further resignations by eurosceptic ministers in her cabinet unless she found a way to ensure the backstop was not permanent.

Trade secretary Liam Fox told friends that her proposal "would make life very hard for me", according to a Mail report, because it would limit the UK's ability to strike new free trade deals outside the EU.

Arlene Foster, the DUP leader, said on Thursday afternoon that the prime minister could not "in good conscience" recommend such a deal and vowed to oppose it.

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