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May's 'secret' Brexit deal avoids Irish backstop

05 November 2018

Theresa May appears to have accepted that an open border with the Irish Republic is absolutely vital - despite its regular exploitation by organised criminals and illegal migrants - but can not leave Northern Ireland in the Customs Union by itself, as this would lead to customs checks between Britain's Home Nations.

The Conservative MP said that Tony Blair's failure to publish his own government's legal advice from its then attorney-general on the Iraq war meant that the Labour prime minister's reputation "never recovered".

In a major intervention on the controversial backstop, amid reports that the government plans to keep Northern Ireland in aspects of the European Union trade structures, Mr Davis said it was "pretty clear there is genuine and significant concern regarding the implications of any fresh backstop text".

The sides are debating how to prevent a hard border on the island of Ireland.

The plan sees the whole of Britain remaining in the EU customs union - not just Northern Ireland.

Raab has claimed he could agree a Brexit deal by 21 November, a deadline Downing Street has distanced itself from.

May is also understood to be close to a political deal on a future economic partnership (FEP) with Brussels that would give Britain the green light to pursue a free trade deal similar to Canada.

According to the Sunday Times, the agreement would include an "exit clause" aimed at convincing Brexiteers that remaining in the customs union would be temporary.

British Prime Minister Theresa May has secured concessions from Brussels that will allow her to keep all of the a customs union with the European Union and avoid a hard border in Northern Ireland, the Sunday Times reported, without naming sources.

A spokesperson said: "The prime minister has been clear that we are making good progress on the future relationship and 95pc of the Withdrawal Agreement is now settled and negotiations are ongoing".

The Taoiseach also said the UK's withdrawal from the bloc had undermined the historic Good Friday Agreement that ended three decades of violence in Northern Ireland and called for a guarantee that there would be no return of a hard border with the Republic.

Senior sources told the paper that May has secured concessions from Brussels, with the EU agreeing to write an "all-U.K." customs union into the divorce deal.

But expectations are rising that United Kingdom negotiator Olly Robbins will be pressing hard to finalise a deal in Brussels this week, to set the scene for a special Brexit summit later in the month to secure the approval of the leaders of the 27 remaining member states.

May's 'secret' Brexit deal avoids Irish backstop