Foreign

Britain prepares new proposal on Irish border

British Prime Minister Theresa May said on Tuesday that she is preparing to make a new offer to the European Union aimed at breaking the deadlock in the Brexit negotiations.

British Prime Minister Theresa May
“We will be setting forwards those proposals. Can I just explain why we are setting forward our own proposals? It is because the plan the European Union put forward is not acceptable to us,” May told BBC radio.

“Because the plan the European Union has put forward is one that effectively keeps Northern Ireland in the customs union and ensures that effectively there is a customs border down the Irish sea.”

The British Government in June, proposed a temporary “backstop’’ arrangement to maintain free movement of goods and people across the Irish border, in a bid to catalyse slow-moving negotiations on leaving the European Union.

Prime Minister Theresa May’s cabinet office had on June 7, said that a “technical note’’ had been produced for discussion with the EU.

“It sets out the UK’s proposal for the customs element of an arrangement to satisfy its commitments in relation to Northern Ireland,’’ the office said, following a reported meeting of May and senior cabinet members earlier.

The document suggests that any temporary “backstop’’ arrangement until a longer-term trade deal is in place which May has insisted would only be a last resort should end by December 2021.

“The UK is clear that the temporary customs arrangement, should it be needed, should be time limited, and that it will be only in place until the future customs arrangement can be introduced,’’ it said.

It said the government was “clear that the future customs arrangement needs to deliver’’ on keeping an open border between Northern Ireland which will leave the EU with the rest of Britain in March and the Republic of Ireland, which will remain an EU member.

Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, welcomed the publication of the proposal.

“We will examine it with three questions,’’ Barnier wrote on Twitter.

He said the questions were whether it offers “a workable solution to avoid a hard border;’’ respects the integrity of the EU single market and customs union; and provides an “all-weather backstop.’

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