Brexit: EU insistence on Northern Ireland backstop unacceptable, May tells MPs

Tony Blair

She said that a future economic partnership should provide solutions for Northern Ireland and that the backstop is meant to be an insurance policy for the people of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Giving the talks a head-start, Britain's Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab was in Brussels on Sunday for a previously unannounced meeting with European Union chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier.

She also will meet a leading cardiologist to discuss a cross-border heart service that treats children from both sides of the border and visit St Patrick's Church of Ireland cathedral.

With less than six months to go until the United Kingdom is due to leave the European Union, its most momentous shift in foreign and trade policy for over four decades, May is seeking to rally support at home on the details of a divorce deal though it is unclear if she can win parliamentary approval.

British Prime Minister Theresa May said that a Brexit deal is still achievable, despite talks becoming deadlocked on the issue of the Irish border.

The discussion prompted rumors that a full agreement might be imminent, but Barnier says the future of the border on the island of Ireland remain a serious obstacle.

There are still some "big issues" to be resolved and "Dominic has gone out there to try to resolve the outstanding issues".

The British government said it remained committed to making progress at the summit.

May's Brexit plan has also been rejected by leaders of the main opposition Labour Party, further dimming the prime minister's hopes of winning parliamentary backing for any Brexit deal she reaches with European Union officials. "We're not looking for anything new here", he said.

Andrea Leadsom, the Leader of the Commons, is said to be "considering her position".

DUP leader Arlene Foster said Thursday that May and her government "could not in good conscience recommend a deal which places a trade barrier on United Kingdom businesses moving goods from one part of the Kingdom to another".

Spain's Josep Borrell confirmed that ministers were disappointed a draft deal was not possible over the weekend, but added: "We don't have to dramatise, we still have time".

Carmakers have expressed worries that if there is no Brexit deal, port and road delays could slow the import of auto parts, hitting output and adding to costs.

DUP leader Arlene Foster remains opposed to any Brexit plan that would require checks on goods traveling between Northern Ireland and Britain, as some European Union leaders have suggested as part of a backstop.

The British government said in a statement issued Sunday night there were still "unresolved issues" but insisted negotiators had made "real progress" toward a divorce agreement.

It is unclear now whether the leaders will call for the November summit this week.

In a strongly-worded article in the Belfast Telegraph, Mrs Foster warned against the EU's backstop proposal and also stressed that she would not accept any measure that resulted in extra checks for goods travelling between Great Britain and Northern Ireland. But so far that has not met British reservations.

Mrs May has dismissed the EU's previous suggestion of keeping Northern Ireland aligned to its trade rules as a safety net, or "backstop" arrangement, saying this would divide the UK.

At least one member of May's Cabinet is considering resigning over her Brexit stance and former Brexit Secretary David Davis is rallying Brexit hardliners to rebel.

Writing in the Sunday Times, Mr Davis, who quit in July over Brexit, said: "It is time for the Cabinet to exert their collective authority".

The Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, urged May to "put the country before her party" and stand up to the "reckless voices" on the Conservative benches.

Although one-time Foreign Secretary and former Mayor of London Johnson was widely seen to have bottled his chance of challenging Theresa May's leadership when he stepped back from the brink at the Conservative Party conference where he even gave a craven message of support for the Prime Minister, he has continued sniping from the sidelines since.

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