European Union rejects Irish border proposals and says Brexit talks could still fail

European Union rejects Irish border proposals and says Brexit talks could still fail

European Union rejects Irish border proposals and says Brexit talks could still fail

Downing Street has denied reports suggesting the EU's rejected ALL Theresa May's proposals for avoiding a hard border in Northern Ireland. "That commitment was set out in December's Joint Report which also includes our guarantee of avoiding a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland", a spokesman said.

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.

Dismembering Northern Ireland from the British economy is unlikely, at least while the British government is dependent on the support of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) for its parliamentary majority.

A customs partnership would see Britain collecting tariffs on behalf of the European Union for goods entering the country en route to Europe and applying its own tariffs to imported goods destined for the British market.

It is thought this could cast doubt on the UK's ability to leave the customs union. The easiest way to accomplish that would be to keep Northern Ireland in the EU customs unions, however, this is unacceptable to hardline unionists in Theresa May's government.

The importance of the Irish border issue for the whole Brexit deal was reiterated by EU Council President Donald Tusk this week.

The reports came as Britain's former ambassador to the EU, Sir Ivan Rogers said that United Kingdom hopes of finding a technological solution to the border issue were regarded as "a fantasy island unicorn model" in European capitals.

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This latest blow to British ambitions could reopen the debate on continued customs membership, which has been vehemently opposed by Brexiteers who wish for the United Kingdom to set its own tariffs and pursue trade deals with third countries.

Former Treasury permanent secretary Lord Macpherson tweeted: "EU's position on Irish border so predictable. United Kingdom sold pass by conceding "backstop" in December, inviting European Union to hold us to it. #badbusiness".

Mrs May has said remaining part of a customs union would "betray the vote of the British people" and "not be compatible with a meaningful independent trade policy".

"We have agreed that the areas covered in the draft must reflect those that meet our shared commitments".

The UK's former top official in Brussels, Sir Ivan Rogers, said he believed the European Commission and many EU states, in particular the Republic of Ireland, believed the "backstop" option was the only viable solution.

Meanwhile, The Times reported frustration within the Cabinet over delays in drawing up the Government's plans for immigration after Brexit.

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