May Refuses to 'Guarantee' Brexit Customs Union Time Limit

In an open letter to voters, Best For Britain warned that there was a danger of the political establishment "sleepwalking the country over the Brexit finish line" in March without any clarity over whether the deal will be good for the UK.

Following the unveiling of Labour's new position on UK-EU relations after Brexit, what are the options under discussion ahead of the crunch Commons votes on June 12?

The UK's proposals for a "backstop" arrangement for the border between Northern Ireland and Ireland are to be published "shortly", although Brexit Secretary David Davis understood to have concerns about some of the details.

Mr Barnier also rejected the idea of a time limit on the backstop which Downing Street has requested, an issue that almost led to the resignation of Brexit Secretary David Davis. The government acknowledges that an approach on regulatory standards will also be needed to avoid a hard border.

The Republic of Ireland's Deputy Prime Minister Simon Coveney said he looked forward to discussing the UK's proposal with Mr Barnier's team.

Secretary Davis is rumoured to be furious with Theresa May over "deliberate attempts" to foil Brexit.

"What's important now is that we now have a published, agreed piece of government policy", Mrs May's spokesperson told reporters, saying the government was "looking forward" to further talks with the European Union on Britain's counter-proposal.

The EU proposed keeping Northern Ireland in the customs union but this was rejected by the government as well as Northern Irish party the DUP, which is holding together Mrs May's minority government.

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It comes as the PM's latest Brexit proposals received a frosty reception in Brussels, Michel Barnier raising objections to her plan for a time-limited customs backstop covering the whole UK.

Barnier has proposed that Northern Ireland effectively stays in the single market and customs union following Brexit, a suggestion that has prompted claims that the EU is seeking to annex Northern Ireland. Yet with less than ten months to go until the country is set to leave the European Union, we have nothing agreed and there is every prospect of another flunked summit at the end of this month.

May's government is divided over two alternatives regarding which customs arrangement to seek with the European Union after the end of a transitional period created to bridge Britain out of the bloc, which ends in 2020.

The prime minister's spokesman said: "There isn't going to be a second referendum".

"The backstop paper has been amended and now expresses, in much more detail, the time limited nature of our proposal - something the prime minister and David Davis have always been committed to".

Keir Starmer has hit back at claims Labour will squander the chance to defeat the government over an amendment to keep the United Kingdom in a Norway-style deal after Brexit, saying his party was too divided to back it.

But he did underline that the European Union could not accept offering Britain the same "regulatory alignment" terms for easy access to the single market as it was offering to Northern Ireland.

The pressure of Brexit will not ease on Mrs May before the Brussels meeting, with it confirmed MPs will consider House of Lords amendments to the EU Withdrawal Bill on Tuesday and Wednesday next week.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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