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May Refuses to 'Guarantee' Brexit Customs Union Time Limit

10 June 2018

"I think it raises more questions than it provides answers", Michel Barnier told reporters, recalling that a Brexit withdrawal agreement must be sealed by October to leave time for parliaments to ratify it before the March 29 deadline.

Former business secretary Sir Vince said: "Trade negotiations are nasty, brutish and long, and they generally involve large trade-offs".

Yesterday, Brexit secretary David Davis was, reportedly, threatening to resign over the wording of the government's proposal for a regulatory backstop if London and Brussels fail to strike a deal on the Irish border.

One of the options now being considered is to keep Northern Ireland - not mainland Britain - aligned with those rules, according to the person.

"The UK expects the future arrangement to be in place by the end of December 2021 at the latest".

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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".

The EU's Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier welcomed the publication but stuck by the conditions that have led to a stalemate in the talks so far, and made clear Brussels would not accept any legal time-limit.

The EU proposed keeping Northern Ireland in the customs union but this was rejected by the government as well as Northern Irish party the DUP, which is holding together Mrs May's minority government.

On Friday, a spokeswoman for Prime Minister Theresa May said simply: "There isn't going to be a second referendum".

The future of the border between European Union member Ireland and Northern Ireland after Brexit is one of the most hotly contested issues in the negotiations, with many on both sides of the border wanting to keep the current free-flowing frontier open. It stated that the aim of the future trade negotiations would be to address the challenge of the Irish border through the overall EU-UK relationship.

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If the United Kingdom and the EU can not agree on those "specific solutions", then either the United Kingdom as a whole, or Northern Ireland, will remain aligned to the single market and the customs union after Brexit takes place.

"A backstop that is temporary is not a backstop, unless the definitive arrangement is the same as the backstop", he added.

Under the customs union, EU member states trade freely with each other and charge the same duties on imports from outside the bloc.

But it is likely the main focus of the meeting of the world's seven wealthiest industrial nations will be dominated by discussions around the USA president's controversial trade strategy.

Global trade secretary Liam Fox attempted to quell the anger, saying people must be patient as leaving the European Union is "complex".

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In a coded warning to pro-EU Labour MPs, Starmer said there were "very divided views" in the party about a Norway-style model and he was "injecting some honesty about where we are in the party".

May Refuses to 'Guarantee' Brexit Customs Union Time Limit