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Barnier Lays Out Last Minute Brexit Terms But Will May Accept?

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The level of uncertainty linked to the ongoing Brexit negotiations is reaching fever pitch as the European Summit, by which time the UK PM is to present a new solution to the Irish border issue, is fast approaching next week.

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Indeed, many key UK political figures are voicing their concerns over the severity of the issue with Gordon Brown saying that the UK is at risk of “being permanently paralyzed by seemingly irreparable divisions.” These comments echo those of former UK PM John Major who said, during the referendum campaign in 2016, that an exit from the EU could “tear apart” the UK.

May Wants To Hold On To Union

During the course of these negotiations, May has continued to declare her love for the UK which she calls both her “beloved union” and, more recently, her “precious union”.  But, with the DUP threatening to disable the coalition government if May presses ahead with any plans including a check on goods entering Northern Irelands from mainland Britain and vice versa. Thus, the potential for severe disruption is worryingly high.

Northern Ireland To Stay in The Customs Union

In the latest twist of events, speaking with business leaders this week, Michael Barnier who is the EU’s Brexit negotiator, laid out a fresh offer to Theresa May. In its latest proposal, the EU would allow the UK to remain within the customs union provided that it continues to apply the EU’s external tariffs when dealing with partners outside of the EU and that it would also be necessary to check goods coming into Northern Ireland (though in the least intrusive way as possible”). Furthermore, Northern Ireland would also remain in the customs union following the UK’s departure after the transition period.

Given the significant battle, this would cause with the DUP, it is unlikely that May will accept these terms but as time continues to run how it is becoming increasingly difficult to see how this puzzle will be solved.

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