Ministers on standby for emergency cabinet meeting to approve final Brexit deal

Katie Ramirez
November 7, 2018

He was speaking in Slovakia just hours after Prime Minister Theresa May reportedly proposed a "review mechanism" which would allow the United Kingdom to leave the backstop at some point.

British sources said there was "significant work still to resolve the outstanding matters", but indicated the Cabinet would be rapidly summoned if the pieces fell into place.

A cabinet meeting can be called at any time but it is now expected that the deal will be signed off in December's European Union summit.

There is a growing confidence in Whitehall the European Union will accept an all-UK backstop, which would mean the whole of Britain remaining in a customs arrangement with Brussels to avoid a hard Border if a trade deal can not be finalised by December 2020. Coveney had noted that Ireland's position on the Northern Ireland backstop "remains consistent", and that a time-limited backstop "that could be ended by United Kingdom unilaterally would never be agreed".

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.

Speaking at the Great Catholic Conferences in Brussels, Mr Barnier stressed that Britain will remain "in all likelihood" a "neighbour, partner and ally" after March 2019.

Downing Street later said there is no further cabinet meeting scheduled this week in order for ministers to reach an agreement on Brexit, although one could be held "at the appropriate moment".

Following the Cabinet meeting, Mrs May's spokesman said: "The Prime Minister said she was confident of reaching a deal".

UK Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit plan could leave Britain in a "long running" multiyear transition period, the London Times reported on Wednesday (24 October) citing leaked documents seen by the newspaper.

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"In short term, ministers told be ready for another Cabinet meeting, maybe even at end of this week, because there might be enough movement by then to push button on a deal", she tweeted after the meeting.

The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Development (DAERA) in Northern Ireland also issued advice on its website.

"She said that while the United Kingdom should aim to secure a withdrawal agreement as soon as possible, this should not be done at any cost".

In response to tweet from Irish foreign minister Simon Coveney on Monday, the DUP's chief whip in the House of Commons, Jeffrey Donaldson, cautioned that it "Looks like we're heading for no-deal".

Donaldson said that he could not understand why the Irish government "seems so intent on this course".

Labour shadow chancellor John McDonnell has signalled his party will vote against the United Kingdom being in an effective customs union with the EU for a temporary period after Brexit.

A no-deal outcome, he said, "will have serious consequences for economy of Irish Republic".

"A choice between a no-deal Brexit and a no-clue Brexit is no choice at all".

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