Thursday, 15 November, 2018

Brexit financial services deal 'imminent', says minister

Senator Neale Richmond who chairs the Seanad’s Brexit Committee clashed with Tory MP Owen Paterson Senator Neale Richmond who chairs the Seanad’s Brexit Committee clashed with Tory MP Owen Paterson
Gerardo Duncan | 05 November, 2018, 23:21

According to Irish officials, this point was reaffirmed by Irish prime minister Leo Varadkar during a phone call with Theresa May earlier today.

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

The UK is looking for an agreement based on an improved version of the EU's "equivalence" system of financial market access.

Downing Street confirmed the call had taken place "to take stock of the progress being made in the negotiations", and the two leaders discussed the outstanding issues in the Brexit talks.

Crucially, the speculated new deal will contain an "exit clause" that May hopes will show Eurosceptiocs that the United Kingdom will not remain in a customs union with the EU indefinitely.

Irish deputy prime minister Simon Coveney said that a time-limited backstop will never be agreed to by Ireland or the EU.

Irish premier Leo Varadkar has told Theresa May that he will not accept a Brexit deal which gives the United Kingdom the unilateral power to halt "backstop" arrangements for the border with Northern Ireland.

Speaking ahead of the publication of Mr Johnson's comments, a Downing Street spokeswoman said: "The Prime Minister is clear we are leaving the customs union".

Theresa May is preparing a Brexit deal to keep the whole of the United Kingdom in a customs union with the EU, according to a report.

A spokesperson said: 'The prime minister has been clear that we are making good progress on the future relationship and 95 percent of the withdrawal agreement is now settled and negotiations are ongoing'.

According to the newspaper, May is also planning to reach an agreement on the EU-UK post-Brexit economic partnership, as she aspires to ensure free trade between London and Brussels.

Mr Coveney's spokesperson said the European Union had been united through the Brexit process and the UK had given written commitments that the Withdrawal Agreement would give a legal guarantee of no return to a hard Border in Ireland in any circumstance. "We hope a deal can be done but we're not there yet".

The Sunday Times also adds that preparations for a final deal are more advanced than now publicised, with a document of 50 pages or more potentially on the cards. "Are we being hurtled toward a Hotel California Brexit where we can check out but never leave?"

"I would have thought there will be quite a lot of Labour MPs in the Midlands, in the north, south Wales, sitting in seats where there was a big leave majority and by voting for May's deal they can say to their constituents "I voted for us to leave the European Union" even if the detail means we haven't really".

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