Published: Fri, May 18, 2018
Worldwide | By Victor Meyer

United Kingdom to produce new customs proposal to prevent hard border

United Kingdom to produce new customs proposal to prevent hard border

The latest Ipsos MRBI Irish Times opinion poll indicates that Varadkar has some leeway in how he handles the Brussels summit with a sizeable segment of the electorate believing the Government should allow the Brexit talks to proceed even if there is no progress on the Border issue.

The public is not as hung up on the Border issue as might have been expected given the unremitting focus of the Government and the European Union negotiators on it for the past year.

The British prime minister is reported to have told Tory colleague Jacob Rees-Mogg that she would not be as confident as him about winning a vote.

RTÉ News understands that Downing Street is looking at what might be called a third option.

Mrs May said Britain would have an "independent trade policy" after its departure but Ireland has proposed a "backstop" if no new customs arrangements are finalised before the end of the transition period, the Telegraph reports.

"The other one is does it affect Northern Ireland in an adverse way and can we mitigate the impact of that?"

He said he was "not discouraged" by the plan - and hinted it could lead to the United Kingdom remaining closely aligned with the customs union long term.

The planned agreement has also been seen in the context of the impact of Brexit on the Good Friday Agreement and relations between Northern Ireland and the Republic. The only way to avoid this post-Brexit is for regulations on both sides to remain more or less the same in key areas including food, animal welfare, medicines and product safety.

Brexit - UK seeking previously unthought of 'third way' around the Northern Ireland customs border impasse
UK 'considering third option' over customs dilemma

Mrs May's Brexit "war cabinet" convened again on Tuesday, but did not reach an agreement on which of the two options for customs arrangements on the Irish border - the "customs partnership" or "maximum facilitation" - it will support.

Under pressure from the European Union to move forward with talks on the future partnership that will follow its exit from the bloc, Britain must first settle on a customs proposal to present to skeptical negotiators in Brussels.

According to No 10, David Davis told the Cabinet at its weekly meeting that the white paper would be the Government's most significant publication on the European Union since the referendum two years ago.

The virtue of the so-called third way is that it would make the "backstop" less toxic for Theresa May and the DUP.

Later, Mrs May confirmed the UK's alternative "backstop" would be produced "in due course".

Irish officials expect that London would seek to call the future customs relationship something other than the, or a customs union.

According to the newspaper, the Irish question may remain unresolved until 2023. But without an agreement on customs, those plans are as yet incomplete.

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