Brexit: Theresa May meets ministers to resolve row over customs 'backstop'

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The government later published its proposal for a backstop plan to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland, with an ambition for it to end by the time of the next general election.

European Union Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier briefed reporters in Brussels Friday on progress made in negotiations on Britain's departure from the EU next year.

Britain proposed a compromise solution for the Irish border issue on Thursday - a so-called "backstop" proposal - for a temporary customs arrangement that would keep Northern Ireland inside the EU's single market in goods for a temporary period.

The government has proposed amendments to its Brexit legislation after the unelected upper house of parliament made 15 changes to British Prime Minister Theresa May's original plans, despite ministers' attempts to block them. The backstop document is expected to set out a time-limited arrangement under which the United Kingdom would remain within elements of the EU's customs union, in the event that it is unable to agree a preferred solution for Northern Ireland.

Ministers are also concerned as it does not state that Britain will be able to unilaterally decide when the backstop should end, which had been one of their key demands, the Telegraph reported.

Who supports it? This is the official policy of the Liberal Democrats and the favoured outcome of the Best for Britain pressure group and the People's Vote campaign for a second referendum on the final Brexit deal.

But he said: "We are not going to be intimidated by this form of blame game".

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The final withdrawal deal, and anything agreed that covers the future relationship, will have to be ratified in all of the parliaments across the European Union before the March 2019 Brexit date. He argued that such solution raises questions of an à la carte access to the single market, services, goods or people that is unacceptable to the EU.

But the government is struggling to find a way to fulfil this commitment while sticking to its plan to leave the EU's single market and customs union after Brexit.

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.

May's Conservative government is split between ministers who favor a clean-break "hard Brexit" - leaving Britain freer to strike new trade deals around the world - and those who want to keep closely aligned to the EU, Britain's biggest trading partner. "We believe this is the right thing to do so that everyone's voice can be heard", Eloise Todd, the chief executive of the campaign, said in the launch ceremony.

Amid the indecision, British and European businesses say uncertainty is hurting and they urgently need to know what future trade arrangements will be.

Yesterday, Brexit secretary David Davis was, reportedly, threatening to resign over the wording of the government's proposal for a regulatory backstop if London and Brussels fail to strike a deal on the Irish border.

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