May has EU concessions to keep United Kingdom in customs union

Derek Mackay

All pet owners are now being told to ensure they have the correct health protection documents in place for the possibility of a no deal Brexit.

However, May's former Brexit Secretary has said she must publish legal advice on any deal ahead of a Commons vote, so MPs are fully briefed.

The Prime Minister stressed that she wanted a deal struck quickly but "not at any cost".

"Backstop means backstop. And a backstop can not have a time limit".

Reports at the weekend suggested that the EU is now ready to contemplate concessions which would keep all of the United Kingdom in a temporary customs union following the end of a transition period due to end on December 31 2020.

The Prime Minister's spokesperson said ministers needed more time to consider possible mechanisms that will prevent the United Kingdom from being tied to the European Union through a backstop arrangement to prevent a hard border in Northern Ireland.

But he made clear that he would not accept an arrangement which gave the United Kingdom unilateral powers to ditch the customs union without the agreement of Brussels.

Writing in the Sun, Mr Johnson described the arrangement as a "national humiliation", leaving the United Kingdom as "a vassal state, a colony".

The Prime Minister said any agreement will be dependent on an "acceptable" framework for future relations in areas like trade and security, expected to be covered in a separate political declaration.

Brussels would always use the prospect of a hard border in Ireland to keep the United Kingdom "forever" in its orbit, he claimed.

"We are still not at the 100%", the European Commission official said.

"We are choosing wholesale subjection".

Responding to Ireland's rejection of a time-limit or a United Kingdom ability to unilaterally exit a backstop, the DUP's chief whip Jeffrey Donaldson warned: "Looks like we're heading for no deal". Under this plan we surrender control to Brussels.

"We would urge all pet owners who wish to travel immediately after March 29, 2019 to consult with their vet as soon as they can".

May will try to garner support from her cabinet on Tuesday (6 November) when it comes to the so-called backstop, which United Kingdom government sources say is now the only outstanding unresolved issue.

"We are making good progress on the future relationship, and 95% of the withdrawal agreement has been settled".

The UK will be treated as an "unlisted third country" meaning that pet owners will have to prove their animals are healthy enough to travel to the continent.

Speaking to the News Letter on Monday, DUP Brexit spokesperson Sammy Wilson said his party would not support "any mechanism that gives a veto to the European Union or the Irish", adding: "We could be stuck with this arrangement forever, this eternal backstop". She said that, while the United Kingdom should aim to secure a withdrawal agreement as soon as possible, this would not be done at any cost.

But it is clear that there are advanced discussions about how to get the deal through Parliament and convince the public if, and when, it is done.

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