EU's Barnier calls for 'decisive progress' on Brexit for summit next week

Frederick Owens
October 10, 2018

Tory Brexiteers this week denied reports that they would vote down the Budget if the prime minister fails to change course, and there is cautious optimism in the Cabinet that they can convince enough MPs to vote for a deal she strikes in Brussels.

Rejection of any kind of special status for Northern Ireland inside the EU customs union by the DUP, which props up Mrs May's government, makes getting a deal through parliament much more challenging.

But Foster refused to consider such a compromise on Tuesday, saying: "What we said to Barnier is checks of themselves are symptomatic of something different, so we only need checks if Northern Ireland is following a different regulatory regime to the rest of the UK".

One source told the BBC: "If Theresa May doesn't take our concerns on board, we will take the view that she is not the leader to take us through to a safe Brexit".

Should she press ahead with the plans, it is likely the 10 DUP MPs will vote against the deal, as they do not want Northern Ireland to be treated differently from Great Britain.

Davis wrote: "If we stay on our current trajectory we will go into the next election with the government having delivered none of the benefits of Brexit, with the country reduced to being a rule-taker from Brussels, and having failed to deliver on a number of promises in the manifesto and in the Lancaster House speech".

The DUP has constantly stated there can be no border in the Irish Sea and Northern Ireland must leave the European Union on the same terms as the UK.

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It also came shortly after Foster met European Union chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier, who said he is "working hard to explain and de-dramatise the backstop".

Selmayr, secretary general of the European Commission, has been tasked with coordinating preparedness to protect the EU from economic and political damage if Britain leaves the bloc on March 29 next year without a divorce deal in place.

Barnier told small business leaders that the talks were "continuing intensively this week, day and night, with the aim. of having a deal within reach, if we follow through to the end of this negotiations, on October 17".

Speaking alongside DUP MEP Diane Dodds, Mrs Foster said she had not yet seen a fresh text on the Irish backstop, a guarantee of no hard border on the island of Ireland, from the British government.

Steve Baker, Conservative MP for Wycombe, said he believed "at least 40" of his colleagues would vote against a deal along the lines the prime minister has proposed which would include this "backstop" for Northern Ireland. But he stressed: "Brexit was not our choice".

The EU and United Kingdom have agreed that these checks "cannot be performed at the border" and the EU proposes to carry them out "in the least intrusive way possible", he said.

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