Britain dismisses latest EU move to end Brexit deadlock

Britain has dismissed the latest attempt by Brussels to break the Brexit deadlock, accusing the EU side of simply trying to “rerun old arguments”.

The EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier insisted the UK would not be forced into a customs union against its will through the Northern Ireland backstop.

In a series of tweets following a briefing with EU ambassadors in Brussels, he said the UK would be able to exit the single customs territory unilaterally if it chose to do so.

However, the apparent concession was dismissed by the DUP – who prop up Theresa May’s Government at Westminster – as neither “realistic nor sensible”.

It warned that under Mr Barnier’s proposal, Northern Ireland would still remain in the customs union – effectively imposing a “border in the Irish Sea” with the rest of the UK.

Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay suggested the EU plan was simply a return to an earlier version of the backstop which had already been rejected by the UK.

(PA Graphics)
(PA Graphics)

“With a very real deadline looming, now is not the time to rerun old arguments,” he said.

“The UK has put forward clear new proposals. We now need to agree a balanced solution that can work for both sides.”

Mr Barnier’s intervention came after Mrs May issued an appeal to EU leaders for “one more push” to get a deal over the line ahead of Tuesday’s crunch Commons vote.

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