UK may refuse to pay £39bn bill without deal - Raab

Lloyd Doyle
July 22, 2018

"This of course includes the issue of Ireland and Northern Ireland, that's the most serious issue". "We can not afford to lose time on the issue", he said.

"Agreement on them is necessary prior to us adopting a withdrawal agreement".

Conflict between the two regions of Ireland ended two-decades ago, but a bad Brexit deal could make tensions flair. "We need to de-dramatise things", he added.

"The earlier we can achieve this certainty and clarity, the earlier we can start discussions on our future partnership".

His words around the backstop appeared more conciliatory than they have previously, insisting that it did not have to be the one proposed by the European Union - although more work is being carried out on that suggestion - and that it was not created to cut Northern Ireland off from the rest of the UK.

Addressing the Irish border, Barnier was adamant that a "backstop" plan must be in place for any deal to come to fruition.

Michel Barnier says United Kingdom plans for a "customs partnership" with EU could be illegal under European law.

"We can improve the backstop", Barnier said. We are doing that work.

In her first major Brexit speech since the wave of ministerial resignations which followed her Chequers deal, the Prime Minister described the white paper proposals as "a significant development of our position ... a coherent package".

"Not simply to fall back on to previous positions which have already been proven unworkable".


The influential European Research Group of pro-Brexit Tory MPs, led by Mogg, have threatened to trigger a no confidence motion in Mrs May if she doesn't carry out the result of the referendum.

He says "you can't have one side fulfilling its side of the bargain and the other side not, or going slow, or failing to commit on its side".

"The protection of the peace process and upholding our binding commitments in the Belfast Agreement are grave responsibilities", she said.

Prime Minister Theresa May, left, and Arlene Foster, the leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), during a visit to Belleek pottery factory on the northern side of the Irish border, in Belleek, Northern Ireland, Thursday July 19, 2018.

In an apparent jibe at the political turmoil ripping the Conservative Party apart, Barnier said "intense" debate about the direction of Brexit is "not over".

Twenty years after the Good Friday Agreement, the return of any form of physical checkpoints or other infrastructure would be "an alien concept".

Instead, May said the European Union must engage with her Brexit "white paper" policy document released earlier this month, which proposes negotiating the closest possible links for trade in goods to protect businesses and to fulfil a commitment to avoid having infrastructure on the border.

In a withering assessment of Mrs May's plan on Friday, Barnier ripped up her proposals on customs arrangements, including collecting tariffs and resolving the issue of the Irish border.

This would be based on the Commission's proposal but "not necessarily" stick precisely to the outline released in March, he said.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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