Financial Times reports: UK PM Theresa May says Brexit deal is close

Daniel Fowler
October 12, 2018

The Prime Minister relies on the support of 10 of Northern Ireland's DUP MPs to prop her up in the House of Commons and to secure their backing senior Tories are ready to offer them a bribe.

DUP leader Arlene Foster, who has been in Brussels this week for talks with European Union officials, repeated her warning that she would not accept anything that threatened the integrity of the UK. But EU officials say that May has conceded that it will not contain a firm end date.

Earlier this week EU officials expected that a possible new United Kingdom proposal on the Irish border issue would suggest having the United Kingdom remain in the customs union indefinitely. However, the British government would be able to point to criteria under which the arrangement would be terminated, fulfilling the British desire for it to appear to be a temporary arrangement.

DUP leader Arlene Foster insisted on Tuesday that her party would not accept customs or regulatory checks on goods travelling in either direction between Northern Ireland and Great Britain after meeting EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier in Brussels, and again following talks on Wednesday with European Parliament Brexit co-ordinator Guy Verhofstadt.

The challenge for May will be in selling the formulation to the whole cabinet.

Penny Mordaunt, the International Development.

Those present included Jeremy Hunt, the foreign secretary, David Lidington, the Cabinet Office minister, Sajid Javid, the home secretary, and Michael Gove, the environment secretary. 'An bad lot depends on the talks in the coming days'. "There are big issues still to resolve".

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Mr Barnier said on Wednesday an agreement was "within reach" of being met by next Wednesday, when EU28 leaders gather for a summit in Brussels.

One source close to Ms McVey told the FT: "They are going to talk a lot over the weekend and consider what they will live with and what they will walk over".

Northern Ireland would also remain in the single market for goods.

Mrs Foster, speaking after a third day of talks in Brussels, said the decisions made by the Prime Minister in the comings days will be "critical" for Northern Ireland.

Theresa May will on Thursday ask her Brexit "war Cabinet" to agree a backstop plan that would keep Britain in a customs union with Brussels until a permanent trade deal can be agreed.

Michelle O'Neill, Sinn Fein's vice-president, responded by saying that "the DUP does not speak for the majority of the people of the north on Brexit".

The plan would also involve keeping Northern Ireland in the single market to help maintain frictionless trade across the border with the Republic while mainland Britain would be outwith the single market.

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