European Union could reject Northern Ireland border proposals, Republic's deputy PM suggests

Jeremy Corbyn

Jeremy Corbyn

An amendment to the Trade Bill calling on the PM to try to negotiate a customs union with the EU, tabled by Conservative former minister Anna Soubry, has attracted the support of enough Tories to threaten defeat for the British Government.

Simon Coveney said that while he welcomed the Prime Minister's vow not to allow Brexit to jeopardise the Northern Ireland peace process, the United Kingdom must now provide the solution to how a hard border could be avoided and the Good Friday Agreement protected.

British Prime Minister Theresa May gives a speech on Brexit at Mansion House in London on March 2, 2018.

Theresa May's plan to maintain a soft Irish border after Brexit could be changed to accommodate European Union concerns, her deputy said amid signals that Brussels could reject it.

Speaking to Andrew Marr, she declined to defend Boris Johnson's comparison of the border to crossing between London congestion zones in Camden and Islington, but insisted both of them are "absolutely clear" that there will not be a hard border.

She called for a third party court to be set up that would resolve trade disputes, instead.

"Given the importance of financial stability, of ensuring the City of London, we can't just take the same rules without any say in them", May said.

May's speech, entitled "Our Future Partnership", was an attempt to settle doubts over how Britain sees its future outside the European Union and its economic architecture and to try to ease frustrations in Brussels over what they say is a lack of detail.

"I don't see how we could reach an agreement on Brexit if the United Kingdom government continues to bury its head in the sand like this", he said.

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In her Friday speech, May conceded that the United Kingdom won't get everything it wants in the negotiations with the EU but she maintained her aim to reach an unprecedented trade deal that her Cabinet has rallied behind even though European officials think it's unrealistic.

Her comments came as sources admitted there were suspicions that the leak had originated from Downing Street or the Treasury, despite a strong denial from Barwell.

She promised no cherry picking of the EU's best bits, but maintained her red lines around the free movement of labor and Europe's customs union.

The government has proposed either a customs partnership or a technological solution, which May claimed would prevent 80% of checks on small companies.

Appearing on the BBC this morning, The Tánaiste Simon Coveney is "not sure" the technological solution would "actually protect the integrity of the European Union single market".

EU leaders have warned that May's insistence on leaving the EU's single market and customs union makes the continued close ties she is seeking impossible.

On ITV's Peston on Sunday, Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon said that May should be given credit for "injecting some realism" into the debate by admitting in her speech on Friday that the United Kingdom would be worse off after Brexit.

David Lidington, who is Theresa May's unofficial deputy, said Westminster would only get involved in devolved areas if a "pause" is needed to make UK-wide frameworks to protect the British common market and global rules. "The clock is ticking", she added.

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