Boris Johnson lays out his ‘game changing’ Brexit plan

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Boris Johnson warned Brussels that Britain must not be ‘held against its will’ tonight as Ireland mounted an all-out bid to kill off his fledgling Brexit blueprint before it has even been tabled.

The Prime Minister hinted he could deploy disruption tactics if the EU agrees to Remainer calls for an extension to the Halloween deadline – saying both sides would face a ‘very unhappy and unfortunate’ situation. 

The thinly-veiled threat came after Irish PM Leo Varadkar seized on the leak of what was claimed to be the UK plans in Dublin – which was condemned as ‘sabotage’ by the DUP.  

Mr Johnson is expected to set out the full details of his ‘game changing’ plan to solve the Irish border issue and break the Brexit impasse to the EU in the coming days. 

The leaks suggested the PM is considering asking the EU to sign up to building ‘customs clearance centres’ on either side of the Irish border, but five to 10 miles away from the actual crossing. 

Mr Johnson today dismissed the suggestion that the centres were part of the government’s ‘final offer’ on Brexit – but insisted Dublin had to recognise the ‘reality’ that customs checks would have to happen on the island of Ireland after Brexit. 

For his part, Mr Varadkar said the people of Ireland would never agree to such a move. ‘People here don’t want a customs border between north and south and no British government should seek to impose customs posts against the will of the people on the island of Ireland,’ he said. 

Mr Johnson also cautioned the EU against extending the Brexit deadline beyond his ‘do or die’ date of October 31. A law passed by Remainer MPs obliges him to beg the bloc for a delay if no agreement has been struck by October 19.

Asked if he would ‘play rough’ if the UK was kept inside the EU, Mr Johnson said: ‘It goes without saying that the UK would be held against the will of its government and indeed against the will of the of the people of the UK who’d voted to leave. And I think that would be a very unhappy and unfortunate situation. 

‘I don’t think that is where are EU friends and partners want us to be.’  

Boris Johnson (pictured in Manchester today) is preparing to send his final Brexit proposals to the EU in the coming days 

The PM gave a salute as he reported for duty at the conference in Manchester today

How Boris Johnson’s reported Brexit plan could work: The PM is apparently considering proposing establishing ‘customs clearance centres’ on both sides of the Irish border 

Similar proposals to those floated today have been rejected before, and Irish deputy PM Simon Coveney branded them a ‘non-starter’.

Sources in Brussels complained that they were ‘no different from what would happen in No Deal’. 

Mr Johnson has played down the idea that there would be ‘customs clearance centres’, and said the EU was responding to previous ideas put forward. 

‘That’s not what we are proposing at all,’ he said.   

But he insisted there will be ‘changes to the status quo’ and suggested Ireland can only hope to ‘minimise inconvenience’.  

He warned: ‘People need to face up to the true reality here. We are leaving, and that, I am afraid, will mean some change to the status quo.

‘But I’m absolutely confident this can be a world class border with a real minimisation of inconvenience to businesses and individuals – consistent with the kind of approach adopted today.’   

DUP chief whip Sir Jeffrey Donaldson claimed the leaks were designed to undermine the negotiations, as he also suggested the customs posts plan did not reflect current government thinking. 

He told BBC Newsnight: ‘We don’t recognise these proposals as being current in terms of the UK’s proposition to the European Union. Clearly that’s still being worked on, we’re in the loop on that, and we want a deal. And that’s what we’re working towards.’

He added: ‘I think a deal is still possible. I think what happened yesterday evening, whoever was behind it certainly wasn’t working towards a deal. I think this was an act of sabotage to try to make it more difficult in the negotiations.’

As part of any new agreement, Mr Johnson is expected to ask the other 27 EU member states to turn down another delay to the UK’s withdrawal.

He wants to force Parliament into a binary decision, either to accept his new deal or allow Britain to crash out with No Deal on October 31.

How would the PM’s new Brexit plan work? 

Boris Johnson refused to be drawn on the fine details of his ‘game changing’ Brexit plan today.

But the shape of the package, which will be formally unveiled to the EU within days, is becoming clear. 

According to leaks in Ireland, the new blueprint involves Northern Ireland following some EU regulations for food and agriculture – but staying in the UK’s customs jurisdiction. 

To avoid infrastructure at the border checks would take place some distance away, and technology would be deployed to minimise friction.

GPS could be used to track goods to address European concerns that the border could become a ‘back door’ for smugglers. 

Boris Johnson said this morning that the UK government had ‘moved a long way’, and was accepting that the ‘people in Northern Ireland may by British but the cattle are Irish’. 

He played down the idea that there would be ‘customs clearance centres’, and said the EU was responding to previous ideas put forward. 

Mr Johnson said it would not be democratic for Northern Ireland to be subject to a tax system that it had no say over.  

However, it is far from clear any of this will be palatable for the EU or Ireland. 

Irish deputy PM Simon Coveney roundly rejected them overnight as a ‘non-starter’. 

But in a thinly-veiled threat to the EU that the UK will make trouble if it does not leave, he said: ‘I think it would be a mistake to keep the UK bound in beyond the time people want to come out.’ 

In a round of interviews today, the premier said the core issue was how far Northern Ireland stayed within the EU’s rules after Brexit, arguing the UK had already made ‘significant concessions’ by agreeing that the province would follow the bloc’s agricultural and food regulations. 

Shrugging off the wall of rejection from the EU, Mr Johnson said: ‘They are not talking about the proposals we are going to be tabling, they are talking about stuff that went in previously.

‘But clearly this is the moment when the rubber hits the road. This is when the hard yards really are in the course of the negotiations.

‘The difficulty really is going to be around the customs union and to what extent Northern Ireland can be retained within EU bodies at all.

‘We’re going to make a very good offer, we are going to be tabling it very soon, but there is a difficulty if you try to keep Northern Ireland in a customs union because one of the basic things about being a country is you have a single customs perimeter and a single customs union.’ 

But Mr Coveney responded overnight: ‘Non-Paper = Non-Starter. Time the EU had a serious proposal from the UK Govt if a #Brexit deal is to be achievable in October. NI and IRE deserves better!’  

European Commission spokeswoman Mina Andreeva said: ‘We have not received any proposals from the United Kingdom that meet all the objectives of the backstop, as we have been reiterating and demanding.’

She added: ‘It’s the UK’s responsibility to come forward with workable and legally operational solutions that meet all of the objectives of the backstop.’

Bertie Ahern, a former Irish prime minister, said the idea of customs posts would ‘not be a runner’. 

Sin Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald said the leaked proposals to change the backstop were ‘essentially’ a return to a hard border in Ireland.

Asked whether she could back such draft plans, she said: ‘Absolutely not.’  

Mr Johnson insisted he had not yet asked the EU to block a delay.

‘My own view is that they want to get this done as much as we do and indeed the majority of the British public do, whether they voted for leave or remain,’ he said. 

In a reference to the Vote Leave claim that Brexit would free up £350million a week for the NHS, Mr Johnson said if the UK stays in a future campaign would ‘need a bigger bus’ as conttributions to Brussels will rise.

Mr Johnson’s father Stanley was among the Tory activists at conference in Manchester today

The reaction of Emmanuel Macron, pictured today in Strasbourg as he met with Ukrainian film director Oleg Sentsov, to Mr Johnson’s proposals will be key. The French President is understood to be against the idea of a further Brexit extension

Cabinet ministers Jacob Rees-Mogg (left) and Liz Truss (right) seemed in good spirits today

Remainer alliance in chaos as Labour and SNP clash over when to bring down PM

The Remainer alliance descended further into chaos today as Labour and the SNP clashed over when they should move to try to bring down Boris Johnson.

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell said any vote of no confidence (Vonc) in the government would have to come after a crunch EU summit in three weeks time otherwise ex-Tory Remainer rebels would not back it.

But this put him at odds with the SNP, which favours a vote within days. 

The nationalist party’s Westminster leader Ian Blackford, told BBC Scotland: ‘I do think there is a danger we run out of time, because when we call a motion of no confidence we have 14 days to put an administration in place. 

‘Once we get to the middle of October the options for us are beginning to close off.

‘Everyone has to accept their responsibility. We are willing to do our part to bring Boris Johnson down – why are the other parties not prepared to do what is necessary to remove this man from office?’

It came after Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson had earlier warned Jeremy Corbyn he had no hope of becoming PM. 

‘The figure would go up,’ he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. ‘It would be nearer £400million.’ 

Mr Johnson also shrugged off ‘shot and shell’ criticism about his conduct, including allegations that he grabbed the thigh of journalist Charlotte Edwardes during a dinner in 1999, when he was editor of the Spectator magazine.  

‘I’ve said what I have said about that. They are not true,’ Mr Johnson insisted.

‘It is very sad someone should make such allegations…

‘I don’t want to minimise the significance of such allegations if they were true. But in this case…. ‘

The PM is expected to spend much of the day making calls to European capitals before delivering a formal text of his terms after his speech at the Tory party conference tomorrow.

If he manages to strike an agreement and get it through Parliament, Mr Johnson will have cancelled out the Benn act – his hated ‘Surrender Bill’ – which was drawn up to prevent No Deal exit.  

Those behind the law, including Tory rebels Sir Oliver Letwin and Dominic Grieve, have conceded they cannot force the EU members into granting another delay. 

But the Prime Minister’s bold strategy faces brutal hurdles in Brussels amid fears Michel Barnier will immediately try to torpedo his legal text.  

The Republic of Ireland is wavering on an agreement as ministers prepare to go toe-to-toe with the EU.

If, however, the Prime Minister looks like he will succeed there is likely to be clamouring from Remain MPs for the attention of Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron. 

Ministers are understood to have warned Mr Johnson that he will have to seek an Article 50 extension unless he get a new deal. 

‘The only way No Deal happens now is if the EU turns down an extension,’ one Cabinet minister told MailOnline. 

Senior government sources believe much will hang on whether Merkel ‘comes out fighting’ for a compromise deal. 

Health Secretary Matt Hancock looked miffed about the weather in Manchester as he arrived at conference today

‘They are not budging yet,’ one source said.   

Pressure is mounting ahead of a crunch EU summit on October 17, when Mr Johnson will make one final big play for a deal.

What happens next in the Brexit crisis? 

Here is how the coming weeks could pan out:  

Today-tomorrow: Tory conference is taking place in Manchester, but hampered by the fact Parliament is sitting. 

Mr Johnson is due to give his first keynote speech as leader on the final day. The speech will be a crucial waypointer on how Brexit talks are going.

This week: Legal text of the UK’s new Brexit proposals set to be sent to the EU.  

October 17-18: A crunch EU summit in Brussels, where Mr Johnson has vowed he will try to get a Brexit deal despite Remainers ‘wrecking’ his negotiating position. 

October 19: If there is no Brexit deal by this date Remainer legislation obliges the PM to beg the EU for an extension to avoid No Deal. 

Jeremy Corbyn has said that he will only let Mr Johnson trigger an election after an extension has been secured.

If there is a deal, it will start being rushed through Parliament immediately. 

October 31: The current deadline for the UK to leave the EU. 

November/December: An election looks inevitable, but Labour is hinting it might push the date back towards Christmas to humiliate the PM further. 

If some sort of package can be thrashed out it will then be rushed through Parliament before the premier’s ‘do or die’ deadline of October 31 – with both Houses likely to sit through the night.

Ministers say Labour MPs will be warned that it is their final chance to secure an orderly departure, with the alternative letting the country crash out at Halloween.

‘They will come around,’ another Cabinet minister told MailOnline. ‘If a deal comes back from Brussels it will be a stark choice.’  

Mr Johnson is preparing a diplomatic blitz to coincide with the legal text, written by his chief sherpa David Frost.   

No10 is not thought to have completely ruled out some kind of Irish backstop with a time limit on the Irish border backstop.

But Downing Street is adamant the final shape of the controversial arrangement cannot be the same as previously.   

‘We will be fully out,’ one source said. 

However, it will involve compromise on Northern Ireland, where the Province will have to continue to follow EU rules on food and agriculture in order to reduce the need for checks on the border with the south. A senior Government source said: 

EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier is seen in London as a ‘purist’ and the biggest obstacle to Brexit. 

Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and French President Emmanuel Macron have also been identified as potential roadblocks in the run-up to a crunch EU summit on October 17. One senior figure said Mr Macron appeared to want to ‘punish’ the UK for leaving.

An Irish Government spokesman said a credible alternative to the backstop had yet to be proposed by the UK. 

‘The EU taskforce has indicated that any non-papers it has received from the UK to date fall well short of the agreed aims and objectives of the backstop,’ he said. 

‘The UK’s non-papers were given to the taskforce on the strict understanding they would not be shared with anyone. 

‘The taskforce has said it has received no credible proposals from the British. 

Cummings ‘warns Brexit battle is heading for the courts’ 

Dominic Cummings is said to have warned privately that the Brexit battle is headed for a legal showdown.

The No10 chief briefed senior Tories that the last weeks of October are set to be spent ‘in the courts’, according to reports.

The warning suggests that Boris Johnson is preparing to take the standoff over a rebel law against No Deal to the wire if necessary.

The Supreme Court sent a signal last week by ruling that his prorogation of Parliament was illegal.  

‘Ireland’s priorities are protecting the Good Friday Agreement, avoiding a hard border and protecting the all-island economy, and protecting the EU single market and its benefits for Irish businesses and consumers. 

‘We have yet to see any credible alternatives to the backstop.’ 

Shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer said: ‘If Boris Johnson had spent any time listening to businesses and communities in Northern Ireland, he would know that these proposals are utterly unworkable.’ 

He added: ‘If accurate, these proposals represent yet another failure of the Government’s negotiating strategy. 

‘The Prime Minister should admit he has no credible plan for Brexit and that the only way to resolve this issue is to go back to the people with a public vote.’

One Cabinet source yesterday put the prospect of a deal at ’50-50′. Mr Johnson has also drawn up plans to push a deal through the Commons in days if he can secure an agreement at the Brussels summit. 

The ‘Spartans’ who voted against Theresa May’s deal three times have been warned that they face being kicked out of the party if they oppose a deal brought back by Mr Johnson. No 10 also hopes to pile pressure on Labour MPs in Leave-voting areas.  

Mr Johnson has told allies privately that he is determined to stick to his public pledge to leave the EU at the end of this month, with or without a deal. 

One source said he was even willing to take the stand at the Supreme Court if the so-called Remainer Alliance goes to court to try to enforce a controversial new law designed to force him to seek another Brexit delay.

However, allies believe that Mr Johnson will ultimately obey any order laid down by the court – not least due to fears that the Cabinet Secretary Sir Mark Sedwill and senior ministers could resign if civil servants are told to break the law.

Sir Mark – the key link between No 10 and Buckingham Palace – appeared to serve notice in a leaked letter to civil servants last night in which he said he was ‘mindful of my constitutional role’.

Brussels and EU capitals want sight of Britain’s final proposal well ahead of a crunch summit on October 17 and 18, where Mr Johnson wants to strike a deal. 

This is so any potential breakthrough can be scrutinised and a workable legal text drawn up in time for EU leaders to sign off. Britain is due to leave just two weeks later on October 31.

Sources insist the government will ‘obey the law of the Spartans’ – the group of Tory hardline MPs who killed off Theresa May’s package and have been fighting against any significant softening of the UK’s position.   

If Brussels rejects the offer the pressure will grow on Mr Johnson to comply with the terms of an anti-No Deal law which states he must ask for a Brexit delay if no agreement is in place in the run up to October 31. 

‘Customs clearance centres’ on either side of the Irish border, factory gates checks and ‘an all-Ireland economic zone’… so how WOULD Boris Johnson’s Brexit plan actually work?

Boris Johnson is expected to present his ‘final offer’ Brexit proposals to the EU in the coming days as he tries to secure a deal before the October 31 deadline. 

The Prime Minister will submit a formal plan setting out how the UK believes the Irish border backstop can be replaced. 

Today it emerged that the PM’s proposed way forward could include the introduction of so-called ‘customs clearance centres’ away from the border. 

But how would they work and are they actually a part of the government’s thinking?  

All of the key questions are answered below as the battle for Brexit enters its final phase.  

In broad terms, what is the plan to replace the backstop? 

Mr Johnson’s proposals are expected to be based on establishing a so-called all-Ireland ‘economic zone’. 

This zone would allow certain items to move across the Irish border without any checks because both sides would stick to the same rules and regulations in terms of how the goods are produced. 

It is thought that agricultural, food and industrial goods could be included in the proposed ‘economic zone’ plan to allow them to be moved without any friction. 

The plan is also thought to include a proposal to give the Northern Irish Assembly a say on which rules and regulations are applied – a so-called ‘Stormont Lock’.

Boris Johnson, pictured in Manchester today, is reportedly going to ask the EU to agree to a backstop replacement proposal which would involve the creation of ‘customs clearance centres’

The idea of building customs posts near the Irish border was given short shrift by the Irish government

Such a provision has long been floated by the DUP as one of the party’s negotiating red lines because it would effectively give political parties in Northern Ireland the ability to veto the application of certain EU rules or proposed changes.   

However, the proposed ‘economic zone’ will not solve all of the problems associated with the border and the government is reportedly still saying that other issues will have to be addressed through ‘alternative arrangements’ and new technology.

That could included trusted trader schemes and exemptions for small businesses, according to The Telegraph. 

But the big development overnight is that Mr Johnson reportedly wants to set up customs checkpoints on both sides of the border. 

However, the customs posts would not be located at the crossing itself but five to 10 miles away. 

How would the customs posts plan work? 

According to RTE News in Ireland, the UK’s offer will propose establishing ‘customs clearance centres’ on both sides of the border. 

These customs posts would be located between five and 10 miles away from the crossing. 

The proposals were apparently floated during recent discussions between the UK and the EU but it has now been claimed that they do form part of Mr Johnson’s formal offer. 

They would see lorries carrying goods produced in sectors where the EU and UK are no longer aligned potentially having to check into the ‘customs clearance centres’ where they would declare what they are moving. 

The extent to which there would be formal customs checks or inspections is unclear but it is thought most of that work would be undertaken where the goods originated from.

After checking in, the lorries heading either north or south would then be monitored electronically – potentially using tracking devices fitted on vehicles or by GPS – as they cross the border before checking into the corresponding customs post on the other side and then continuing to their destination.

Such an approach would ensure there is no physical infrastructure built at the border itself – something Mr Johnson has said he will never agree to. 

But it would mean physical infrastructure being built somewhere and that will likely be enough for the the EU and Dublin to reject the plan amid fears the customs sites could become targets for terrorists. 

It is unclear how big physically, or how time consuming, such a system could prove to be, but proposing building any infrastructure anywhere near the border will be hard for the EU to accept.  

It sounds like this would create a regulatory border in the Irish Sea? Is that right?

By keeping Northern Ireland aligned with the EU in certain areas like food and agricultural goods, there would be a small regulatory border created in the Irish Sea. 

That is because while Northern Ireland would have to stick to the rules inthose areas, the rest of the UK would be free to diverge.

However, the plan as floated would see Northern Ireland treated the same as the rest of the UK in every other customs area. 

The DUP has suggested that it could just about agree to such an approach assuming alignment never went any further. 

Some of this sounds familiar. Didn’t Theresa May suggest this? 

One plan Mrs May had looked at when she was in office was called ‘Max Fac’ – or ‘Maximum Facilitation’. 

That essentially suggested that technology could be used to reduce the need for customs checks and to ensure trade could remain as frictionless as possible. 

‘Max Fac’ was eventually put on the back burner but the concepts it is based on were enshrined in the existing Withdrawal Agreement in the sense that it committed the two sides to examining potential technological ‘alternative arrangements’ to the backstop in the future. 

Simon Coveney, the Irish foreign minister, said today the concept of ‘customs clearance centres’ was a ‘non-starter’

Is this actually the UK’s plan? 

This morning Mr Johnson downplayed the idea that ‘customs clearance centres’ formed part of the UK’s proposals. 

‘That is not what we are proposing at all,’ he told the BBC.

The Prime Minister said it was ‘absolutely not’ true that he wanted to simply move border checks away from the physical border.

He said: ‘There are very good reasons why that would not be a good idea… both for practical reasons and reasons of sentiment that we totally understand.’

But he said it was a ‘reality’ that some checks would be needed to create a ‘single customs territory’ for the UK once it leaves the EU.

Meanwhile, a number of well-informed journalists are insistent that the border proposals do form part of the UK’s plan. 

They have suggested that the government’s denial may just be a row over semantics: Ministers will not describe the measures as ‘customs clearance centres’ but that is effectively what they would be.  

How has the EU responded to the idea of border checks away from the border?  

Badly. Irish deputy premier Simon Coveney was quick out of the blocks last night to pour cold water on the idea that customs posts could replace the backstop. 

He tweeted: ‘Non-Paper = Non-Starter. Time the EU had a serious proposal from the UK Govt if a #Brexit deal is to be achievable in October. NI and IRE deserves better!’

An Irish government spokesman said a credible alternative to the backstop had yet to be proposed by the UK.

‘The EU task force has indicated that any non-papers it has received from the UK to date fall well short of the agreed aims and objectives of the backstop,’ he said.

‘The UKs non-papers were given to the task force on the strict understanding they would not be shared with anyone.

‘The task force has said it has received no credible proposals from the British.’ 

The EU has dismissed similar proposals in the past and the likelihood of the bloc accepting them now appears to be low.   

What about a Brexit delay? 

Mr Johnson has long insisted that he will deliver Brexit on October 31 ‘do or die’ and with or without a deal.

But an anti-No Deal law has been passed by MPs which will force the PM to ask the EU for a Brexit delay if the two sides have not struck an accord in the run up to Halloween. 

The response of Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor pictured in Berlin today, to the plans will be key to Mr Johnson’s hopes of striking a new Brexit deal

Mr Johnson has stuck to his guns and said that he will keep his promise, prompting concerns from Remainers he could try to dodge the law. 

Today it emerged that the PM could ask the EU to rule out a further Brexit delay in the terms of a new divorce agreement. 

The Times reported that Mr Johnson wants the EU’s 27 member states to agree there will not be another Brexit extension and that whatever can be agreed between the two sides before the current deadline will be the final deal available. 

Should the EU agree, it would set up a showdown in the House of Commons with MPs effectively presented with a binary choice of either accepting Mr Johnson’s new deal or agreeing to the UK leaving without an agreement.  

Would the EU agree to rule out another Brexit delay? 

This is currently unclear. The EU has long insisted that it is ready for a No Deal Brexit. 

However, neither Brussels or Britain will want to be blamed for triggering a chaotic split on October 31. 

But if both sides were to agree to the PM’s final deal plan it could potentially be palatable to the EU because both sides would be taking some responsibility for whatever the outcome would be. 

If the EU did agree to rule out another delay it would pile the pressure on MPs to back Mr Johnson’s deal – assuming one can be struck between now and Halloween.   

When will the PM spell out his plan in detail to the EU? 

Mr Johnson is expected to speak to numerous EU leaders over the next 24 hours in a series of high-stakes phone calls. 

He will use those conversations to set out in broad terms his approach to solving the Brexit impasse. 

The UK is then likely to submit a formal offer to Brussels after Mr Johnson’s big set-piece speech at Conservative Party conference tomorrow.

What is the Irish backstop and why is it so divisive?

The so-called Irish border backstop is one of the most controversial parts of the existing Brexit deal. This is what it means: 

What is the backstop? 

The backstop was invented to meet promises to keep open the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland even if there is no comprehensive UK-EU trade deal.

The divorce deal says it will kick in automatically at the end of the Brexit transition period if that agreement is not in place.

It effectively keeps the UK in a customs union with the EU, and Northern Ireland in both the customs union and single market.

This means many EU laws will keep being imposed on the UK, restricting its ability to do its own trade deals. It also means regulatory checks on some goods crossing the Irish Sea. 

Why have Ireland and the EU demanded it? 

Because the UK is leaving the customs union and single market, the EU said it needed guarantees that people and goods circulating inside its border – in this case in Ireland – met its rules.

This is covered by the Brexit transition, which effectively maintains the status quo, and can in theory be done in the comprehensive EU-UK trade deal.

But the EU said there had to be a backstop to cover what happens in any gap between the transition and final deal.  

Why do critics hate it? 

Because Britain cannot decide when to leave the backstop. 

Getting out – even if there is a trade deal – can only happen if both sides agree and Brexiteers fear the EU will unreasonably demand the backstop continues so EU law continues to apply in Northern Ireland.  

Northern Ireland MPs also hate the regulatory border in the Irish Sea, insisting it unreasonably carves up the United Kingdom.   

What are the UK’s new proposals?

The latest blueprint being floated would not be the same as a previous Northern Ireland-only backstop floated by Brussels, which was dismissed by Theresa May as something no British PM could accept.

That would have involved the province staying within the EU’s tax jurisdiction.

Instead, the idea is thought to be a much looser alignment of agricultural and food regulations with Ireland. 

That could help avoid many checks on the border, but it is far from clear it would be acceptable either to the EU or the DUP.


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