Theresa May’s ‘secret Brexit deal’ with EU

Brexit Minister Dominic Raab has been visiting Northern Ireland

Brexit Minister Dominic Raab has been visiting Northern Ireland

"The taoiseach [prime minister] indicated an openness to consider proposals for a review, provided that it was clear that the outcome of any such review could not involve a unilateral decision to end the backstop".

The Prime Minister was reported last night to have secured private concessions from Brussels that would keep the whole of the United Kingdom in a customs union with the EU.

Downing Street dismissed the report as "speculation" and repeated its claim that the deal was "95 per cent" done - but did not deny the substance outright.

Raab's plan would give the United Kingdom the right to ask for a "review mechanism" within three or six months of the so-called backstop taking effect, to allow it to continue only by mutual consent, the Financial Times reported early today.

He said: "It doesn't solve a fundamental problem, which is that if the agreement is still based on the Chequers plan - if it involves the so-called common rule book i.e. regulatory alignment of all sorts of manufactured goods between the European Union and United Kingdom - it will not satisfy the Brexiteers in any way and will be a crucial stumbling block for her".

Plan removes the need for a so-called "backstop" on the Northern Irish border issue.

Cabinet members are due to discuss the status of the Brexit talks on Tuesday morning at their regular weekly meeting, but No 10 was earlier indicating that any update for senior members of the British government was not likely to be substantive because insufficient progress had been made.

An all-UK customs deal could be written into the withdrawal agreement, avoiding the need for a "backstop" for Northern Ireland.

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But the government's Brexit department stated that they are confident there will be a deal that works for businesses - and reiterated their stance against a People's Vote.

Reports of a secret Brexit deal come just as more than 70 business leaders signed a letter calling for a second referendum after warning that a bad deal could threaten the United Kingdom jobs industry.

Former Brexit Secretary David Davis told a Sunday newspaper that the Prime Minister must publish legal advice on any deal so that Ministers and MPs understand its implications before they are asked to vote on it, in order to avoid the "mess" that Tony Blair's government got into over the legality of the Iraq war.

The EU has proposed a backstop that would mean Northern Ireland staying in the EU customs union, large parts of the single market and the EU VAT system.

"These ideas are not backstops at all and don't deliver on previous United Kingdom commitments".

The EU's deputy chief Brexit negotiator, Sabine Weyand, retweeted Coveney, saying: "Still necessary to repeat this, it seems".

It has been reported that Theresa May is close to striking a backstop deal with Brussels which would keep the entire United Kingdom in a customs union.

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