Irish border highlights differences that remain between Britain, EU on Brexit deal

Galtero Lara
Setiembre 20, 2018

He delivered his verdict at the end of a summit in Salzburg where the Prime Minister appealed directly to other European Union leaders for further compromise in the search for a deal over the terms of Britain's exit.

Fighting back against the EU's suggestion that Northern Ireland could stay in the customs union to avert a hard border, Mrs May said separating it from the rest of the United Kingdom was "not credible".

However, the President of the European Council Donald Tusk has said the British proposals on avoiding a hard border in Ireland had to be reworked.

If no deal can be found with the European Union, and with Theresa May having already promised Parliament a meaningful say on the final deal, the scenario is now looking extremely likely to cause an unprecedented constitutional crisis. The Chequers plan can not be take it or leave it.

An emergency summit on Brexit proposed for November 17-18 will only happen as a "punchline to effective negotiations", Tusk said.

Carmakers are anxious that port and motorway holdups could slow the movement of components and finished models, crippling output and adding costs, if Britain fails to reach agreement with the European Union over its departure from the bloc on March 29.

"Time is running short", Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar told reporters.

She will then be out of the room on Thursday afternoon when the other 27 leaders discuss her Brexit proposals. Nonetheless, given the intensity of political attention on both sides of the negotiating table on getting a deal signed and sealed on Brexit, it is perhaps this third option that looks most likely. "We need to de-dramatise the checks that are needed".

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On a second day of summitry in Austria, May's European Union peers rammed home their message on her plea for them to ease up on a "backstop" plan dealing with the border between the British province of Northern Ireland and EU member state Ireland.

May was emphatic there would be no second referendum in Britain despite the difficulty of the negotiations and economic questions the country faces if a deal isn't reached with the EU.

(EU Brexit negotiator) Michel Barnier is doing well, he has our full support. But she showed no sign of backing down from the proposals hashed out with her Cabinet at her country retreat of Chequers in July - so controversial with her own party that they provoked the resignation of her foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, and Brexit secretary, David Davis.

A British government source said London welcomed the EU's commitment to finding a solution to the border issue, but could not accept any proposal that would effectively move the customs frontier into the Irish Sea.

London and Brussels should rule out a "no deal" Brexit, which could add at least 5.7 billion euros ($6.65 billion) in vehicle tariffs and snarl up production, Britain's automotive industry body warned on Wednesday.

The backstop would keep Northern Ireland under EU economic oversight if London and Brussels can not agree a trade pact to keep UK-EU borders open after a transition period ends in 2020 - an idea that May and a small party in the province that props up her minority government oppose.

Chief among them was Tuesday's revelation by BMW, first reported by Sky News, that it would shut down manufacturing at its Mini plant outside Oxford for a month after Brexit day next year because of the potential for supply chain disruption.

"That's why I think if that's the situation we end up in (then) extending Article 50 is a far better way of proceeding".

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