Leo Varadkar warns United Kingdom that progress needed in Brexit talks


Britain will tell Brussels it is prepared to stay tied to the customs union beyond 2021 as ministers remain deadlocked over a future deal with the EU, the Telegraph has learned.

She reiterated her position on the EU's "backstop" option on the border which would see alignment of Northern Ireland-related matters with the EU.

"The Prime Minister has asked smaller groups of ministers to go away and test out over the next days and week or so those detailed questions - so for example on the new customs partnership idea the questions are around to what extent does this inhibit an independent trade policy for the future and can we mitigate those impacts?"

Sources said that the new Irish "backstop" will be strictly "time-limited" and make clear that Britain will be free to implement trade deals. The paper, which reportedly will run to about 100 pages, will be revealed ahead of the European Union summit scheduled in June end.

Britain otherwise risks crashing out of the bloc, a scenario that could hurt the economy and disrupt people's lives.

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The Prime Minister's Brexit war Cabinet earlier this week agreed on a new "backstop" as a last resort to avoid a hard Irish border, having rejected earlier proposals from the European Union.

Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley underlined Cabinet divisions over the issue on Wednesday, declaring that May's preferred option of a "customs partnership" was an "easier" way of solving border problems than the Brexiteers' plan.

Both UK plans fail to address trade standards alignment, Value-Added Tax and "rules of origin" agreement needed to avoid Northern Ireland border checks.

"We have a text which is the Irish backstop. and we need that to be part of the withdrawal agreement".

A United Kingdom official told Politico the plan would have a strict time-limit and said the main problem would likely be objections from the Irish government.

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The Brexit sub-committee reached a consensus that Britain will stay aligned to the customs union if highly complex technology needed to operate borders after Brexit is not ready.

The EU says that would be the best way to avoid a hard Irish border.

The source said extending the use of European Union tariffs was part of discussions to make the backstop arrangement more palatable to Britain, and could be triggered if there were a delay in the ratification of the Brexit deal or if there were problems introducing new technology at the border.

"The deadline for the Withdrawal Agreement of course is October but if we're not making substantial progress by June, then we need to seriously question if we're going to have a Withdrawal Agreement".

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