British Pound Falls after Barnier Makes Bid for Northern Irish Sea Border

Saul Bowman
June 10, 2018

"I don't believe that we should get involved in any backstop proposals, but at least we can see the end of the tunnel", said David Jones, a Conservative former Brexit minister, expressing doubt over whether the European Union would accept the proposal. But it also risks causing more domestic trouble for May, who needs to keep her divided Cabinet together and the Northern Irish party that props up her government onside.

However, Barnier then rejected a recent United Kingdom government proposal for all of the United Kingdom to remain inside the customs union until an arrangement can be made that prevents the EU from imposing a so called hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. It made a partial proposal on Thursday - after much domestic wrangling - and the European Union said on Friday that while it's prepared to keep talking about it, some key elements of the plan won't work.

The DUP, meanwhile, will not accept the EU's preferred option of creating a customs border in the Irish Sea, as it threatens the "constitutional integrity" of the union.

London says this is unacceptable, offering instead a "temporary customs arrangement" for the whole of Britain that would "maintain the status quo for traders in respect of customs processes". Its own foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, has slammed the government's approach.

"The UK is clear that the temporary customs arrangement, should it be needed, should be time limited", said the document.

One pro-Brexit campaigner said the fear was the backstop plan would put Britain "in purgatory", essentially still in the EU's customs union indefinitely.

Mr Barnier said they would be examining them in the light of three questions: "Is it a workable solution to avoid a hard border?"

Liberal Democrat Brexit spokesman Tom Brake said it was clear Mrs May's proposals were unworkable, while Best For Britain chief executive Eloise Todd said the backstop plan was "dead on arrival".

"The UK expects the future arrangement to be in place by the end of December 2021 at the latest" - a year after the end of the post-Brexit transition period.

"However, it remains vital that a legally-binding backstop is agreed to provide certainty that, in all circumstances, a hard border will be avoided". He argued that such solution raises questions of an à la carte access to the single market, services, goods or people that is unacceptable to the EU.

Migrants gathered outside the Asylum Seekers Centre in Tirana said they wanted to find work in a variety of European Union countries, dodging police on the way there.

It also says the parliament must vote on the deal and agree to a referendum, a different kind of people's vote campaign must be fought without the past mistakes in 2019 and it must be held before March 29, 2019 to decide the country's future.

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