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

Lester Mason
October 13, 2018

Numerous problems are now being solved on a step by step basis "but there are, of course" several big issues which we really need to get to grips with, ' the prime minister said.

British negotiators in Brussels are thought to be preparing to sign up to a draft of the backstop for Northern Ireland - aimed at preventing a hard border - that could see the whole of the United Kingdom effectively inside the customs union.

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab, Environment Secretary Michael Gove and International Trade Secretary Liam Fox are reported to have expressed their discontent in the meeting on Thursday.

Britain rejects the EU's proposed solution - to keep Northern Ireland inside the bloc's single market and customs union after the rest of the UK leaves - because it would create new barriers between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK The EU has asked for a counter-proposal from Britain.

"We can't accept a time limit, but we can accept it will only be there unless and until something better is agreed in the future, which is what everyone wants".

'I think that next week we can be very cautiously optimistic that we will make progress, ' Rutte said at a joint press conference with German chancellor Angela Merkel.

Rogers, who quit his post past year, said both May's plan, which would keep Britain in the European Union single market for goods, and rival Boris Johnson's vision of a looser free-trade deal have "precisely zero" chance of being accepted by the bloc.

Mr Coveney also tempered expectations of a breakthrough on the Irish border backstop over the weekend.

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

Earlier, the EU's Brexit negotiator said he had a "constructive meeting" in Poland over Brexit.

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.

"We're voting on the two documents - a withdrawal agreement that needs to be able to stand up to legal scrutiny and court challenge; the second document is a political declaration on parameters".

So all that would happen if we signed backstop keeping us in customs union sine die is that the ghastly debate about whether ultimately to go for a hard rupture with the EU, a hard Brexit, would go on for year after confidence-eroding year.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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