Published: Sun, April 22, 2018
Medicine | By Rogelio Lindsey

Brexit: Britain remains committed to no hard Border in North

Brexit: Britain remains committed to no hard Border in North

Downing Street has denied reports suggesting the EU's rejected ALL Theresa May's proposals for avoiding a hard border in Northern Ireland.

A spokesman for May said that he could not substantiate reports coming out of Wednesday's Brussels meeting that British proposals had been roundly rejected by the EU. "It was made clear that none of the UK's customs options will work".

Backers of a customs union believe it is the only way of resolving the border issue; but it would also constrain the UK's ability to strike distinct trade deals with non-EU countries.

The set-back follows the Government's defeat in the House of Lords over the Withdrawal Bill, with peers backing an amendment that favours staying in the customs union.

The best way for Britain to maintain a strong trade relationship with Europe would be to remain a member of the European Union, French President Emmanuel Macron said this week, write Michel Rose in Paris and Alastair Macdonald in Strasbourg.

Now a cross-party group of MPs - including Conservative Nicky Morgan - have called a vote on the issue in the Commons next week.

But the EU's outright rejection of the two tailored solutions she set out in her Mansion House speech could yet force her into a climb down.

The EU would not countenance allowing a country outside of its supervision and IT systems to levy duties, said it would place the burden of collecting tariffs on business and said that implementing the system on the EU side of the Channel would be too expensive. It is also viewed skeptically by the European Union as merely a "list of best practice measures" applicable to any customs arrangement, according to one European Union diplomat.

Lord Macpherson, the former top official at the Treasury, said the EU's position was "predictable" because of the backstop solution in the Withdrawal Agreement.

In February, however, the European Union published a version which only included the third "backstop" option, which effectively draws a customs border down the Irish sea - something May said would be "unacceptable" to any British PM.

The government's approach to the Irish border issue is "misguided and fails to recognise numerous central concerns about food", the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) has said.

The House of Lords on Wednesday voted by 348 to 225 in favor of an amendment to the EU (Withdrawal) Bill calling on the government to publish a customs union strategy "outlining the steps" it had taken to secure "an arrangement which enables the United Kingdom to continue participating in a customs union with the European Union".

"In terms of what has been agreed so far, it's about 75 percent", Barnier told France 2 television.

Sources say reports that Barnier had suspended internal talks on the future EU-UK trade deal until the Irish issue is resolved were incorrect.

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