Back the bill, urges UK's May as Brexit law faces crunch test

Back the bill, urges UK's May as Brexit law faces crunch test

Ireland's deputy premier Simon Coveney warned that unless there was a legally-binding assurance that a hard border would be avoided "in all circumstances", there could be no progress on other elements of the Brexit talks.

That third "backstop option" was legally codified in a protocol contained in the Draft Withdrawal Treaty in late February.

When pressed on whether he could remain in post if the backstop deal did not meet his full approval, Mr Davis said: "That's a question I think for the Prime Minister to be honest". She also pledged to "explore workable solutions on the Ireland question".

"What my focus now is, on making sure that at the end in October, when we come together with the withdrawal agreement and our future relationship we have a good relationship for the future that is going to deliver for the British people", she said.

As the prospect of border controls has appeared increasingly likely, support in Northern Ireland for staying in the European Union has risen.

Mrs May said the backstop would only be necessary if "for technical reasons" the new customs arrangements were not up and running by January 1, 2021 when the transition period expires. "What is feasible for a territory the size of Northern Ireland is not necessarily feasible for the whole United Kingdom".

Barnier stressed he was not dismissing the British customs proposal, despite enumerating a series of technical questions which he said European Union negotiators would be raising with London.

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The meeting at the prime minister's country residence is expected to take place in July, and will aim to resolve cabinet disagreements that have delayed the publication of the government's Brexit White Paper, which Mrs May had promised would be "detailed and precise".

Instead it would see Britain staying tied to the EU's customs union for up to another year after an nearly two-year transition period if there were any delay in implementing a Brexit deal. "We need regulatory alignment to avoid a hard border".

He also said that the references to a "time limited" backstop arrangement - which were inserted at the last minute on Thursday after Brexit Secretary David Davis threatened to resign - would be rejected by the EU.

She added: "We expect that the end-state customs arrangement at the latest will be in by December 2021 and we will be working to make sure that it is in earlier than that". Notwithstanding the actual feasibility of this deadline, the ambiguity of that formulation raises two possible scenarios. The EU backstop provides an answer but the United Kingdom is taking a different position.

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?

Dr Fox later told the BBC that the new proposal ensured that Britain would be "leaving the European Union and any implementation and subsequent arrangements by the end of 2021".

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