Irish leader lays down red lines on Brexit border deal

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar

The EU's position to avoid a hard border has been for Northern Ireland to remain within the customs union.

The leader of the Best for Britain campaign for a second referendum, Eloise Todd, said: "When the history of Brexit is written in a few years' time the backstop and the UK's decisions around it will be held up as an example of how not to negotiate".

But that has not stopped a flurry of concern from backbench Tory Brexiteers who are concerned the cabinet may be about to be "bounced" into agreeing to terms that they say could bind the United Kingdom into an indefinite customs "limbo" with the EU.

"The Tanaiste couldn't have been clearer that a time-limited backstop or a backstop that could be ended by the United Kingdom unilaterally would never be agreed to by Ireland or the EU".

He was speaking about the speculation the Prime Minister had allegedly made a deal with Brussels allowing the creation of a whole-UK customs union.

A Downing Street spokesman said the prime minister and the Taoiseach agreed that the intention is that the backstop should only be temporary and that the best solution to the Northern Ireland border would be found by agreeing a future relationship between the United Kingdom and the EU.

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Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney has said the Irish position remains clear and a backstop that could be ended by the United Kingdom unilaterally would never be agreed to by Ireland or the EU.

Under the deal, the European Union would accept that regulatory checks on goods can be carried out in factories and shops rather than at the border, the Times said.

"I am extremely confident we will reach an imminent deal", Glen told a financial services conference in London.

Mr Johnson dismissed suggestions that the arrangement would lead the way to a Canada-style trade deal, arguing that the joint UK/EU political declaration on the future relationship due to be released alongside the withdrawal agreement will be "worthless".

A spokesperson for the PM said: "This is all speculation".

Meanwhile, the report predicts that the PM will sell the deal to hardliners within her party by insisting that they will be to blame should the United Kingdom crash out of the European Union without a deal in four months' time.

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"This is the backstop", he added, saying the United Kingdom had agreed that it would apply "unless and until" a close future relationship eliminated any need for Border infrastructure and checks.

Mr Brokenshire, appearing on television, was asked if a deal was close, replying: "Well, we want to get that deal, we're obviously working hard to see that that happens".

"We hope a deal can be done but we're not there yet".

Both sides agree there must be no customs posts or other barriers that could disrupt businesses and residents or undermine Northern Ireland's peace.

"As soon as MPs understand what is really at stake, I have no doubt that they will throw this deal out".

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