Brexit deal 'within reach' says Barnier

Theresa May looking isolated in Salzburg

Theresa May looking isolated in Salzburg

"Michel Barnier and his team are working day and night to reach a deal, but we are not there yet", he said.

The Irish backstop measure, created to ensure no new border emerges between Ireland and Northern Ireland, is supposed to be temporary until a UK-EU trade deal can be agreed, and Theresa May pledged earlier this year that the arrangement would expire "at the very latest by the end of December 2021".

Blasting the proposed deal, she said: "Trade from Great Britain into Northern Ireland would be in danger of restriction".

"Having engaged with numerous EU27 states, it is clear that Northern Ireland will not be offered the so-called "best of both worlds".

Among those due to attend today's War Cabinet are: the Prime Minister's effective deputy David Lidington; Jeremy Hunt, the Foreign Secretary; Sajid Javid, the Home Secretary; Liam Fox, the International Trade Secretary; Greg Clark, the Business Secretary; Michael Gove, the Environment Secretary, and Gavin Williamson, the Defence Secretary. If I was her, I would say: 'Tell me what your solution is.' And I'll suspect they'll say to her: 'No, you go work out the solution, ' which is a little unreasonable really.

She said: "The uncertainty surrounding Brexit for everyone is substantial, but here in Northern Ireland it is acute".

Aodhán Connolly, the director of the NIRC, said: "The offer the European Union has made to Northern Ireland is uniquely beneficial".

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Both sides want to avoid a return to checkpoints on the Irish border as this would hinder trade and risk reigniting violence in the province two decades after a peace deal.

"Therefore, they could not in good conscience recommend a deal which places a trade barrier on United Kingdom businesses". Instead, as Newsnight's Nick Watt reported last night, there's a new plan to insert a "review clause" for the backstop, rather than an end-date, into the UK's withdrawal agreement.

This divergence with Britain would require some form of checks on goods travelling across the Irish Sea. Meanwhile, we have a report on how men have dominated the debate on Brexit in Parliament, with nearly 90% of Westminster contributions on the European Union coming from male MPs.

Dan Bridgett from P&O said: "As long as there are goods and people travelling between the United Kingdom and Europe, P&O Ferries will continue to provide a comprehensive ferry and logistics service to and from the continent". He said customs declarations could be done online in advance.

Mr Barnier told the Parliament: "Our proposal gives Northern Ireland benefits that no part of a third country enjoys".

The report mentions inconsistencies in the claims of pro-Brexit leaders, who oftenpromised easy signing of free trade agreements with major economies such as India after leaving the European Union to compensate for the potential loss of access to the European Single Market.

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