Brexit: May 'committed to open-ended backstop', says Irish minister

Lord Empey said the EU has `no scruples in using the Irish Border question as a tool to protect themselves'

But I did not perceive anything substantially new in terms of content as I listened to Mrs.

Nigel Dodds said any extended transition would mean the United Kingdom continues to "pay but have no say" in Brussels, and that "such an extension would cost United Kingdom billions of pounds, yet our fundamental problem with the European Union proposal remains".

At present the two sides say Britain will remain inside the European Union single market, and subject to the bloc's regulations, from the day it leaves on March 29 until December 2020, to give time for new trade relations to be set up.

Lidington rejected claims that an extension would cost Britain more than $13.1 billion USA in payments to the European Union in order to stay in the bloc's single market and customs union for another year.

Britain's Cabinet Office Minister David Lidington said it was too early to estimate the cost of extending a Brexit transition period.

The backstop is a proposed mechanism to keep the United Kingdom in the EU's Customs Union after Brexit - essentially precluding the country from taking back control of its worldwide trade policy - in order to prevent a hard economic border between the British province of Northern Ireland and EU member the Republic of Ireland. "I wanted to make sure there was no sense in the room that, in any way, anybody in Ireland was in any way exaggerating the real risk of a return to violence in Ireland".

May addressed leaders of other EU member states on Wednesday evening on the first day of the European Council summit.

"She's between a rock and a hard place", Finland's former prime minister Alexander Stubb said of May, in an interview with NPR's Morning Edition.

A senior British government official tried to play down the significance of May's consideration of such an extension, saying it had only "come up in negotiations in recent days" and that it was one of several options to help move the talks on - something London desperately wants to see.

And he asked the PM to confirm Treasury legal advice to Cabinet that the Government would have to pay the European Union a "divorce bill" of £30 billion even if no Brexit deal was secured.

She is hemmed in by pro-Brexit members of her Conservative Party, who oppose any more compromises with the bloc, and by her parliamentary allies in Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party, who insist a solution to the border issue can't include customs checks between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said: "I am optimistic that we can reach a deal in the next weeks or months". Others at the bar managed to capture videos of the four leaders enjoying themselves and, naturally, posted them online.

Eurosceptics in May's Conservative Party are likely to accuse her of delaying Brexit, and will balk at the prospect of Britain continuing to pay about 10 billion euros (S$15.8 billion) a year into the EU's budget.

It emerged Dominic Raab had written to MPs, warning them that any Commons debates and votes should not "undermine" the final piece of Brexit legislation that implemented the deal.

Mrs May responded: "The proposal that we have put forward is one that delivers on the referendum vote but also ensures that we protect jobs and livelihoods across the United Kingdom". The lack of progress has prompted preparations for a 'no-deal' Brexit to be kicked into high speed.

May planned to accentuate the positive when she addresses fellow European Union leaders - before they have dinner without her - by stressing how much progress has been made in many areas.

"Can the Prime Minister confirm what action the Government is taking to ensure this important sector for our economy continues to be able to access the workforce it will need?"



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