Theresa May under increased pressure to oppose Irish Brexit backstop

Arlene Foster DUP leader and Diane Dodds a DUP European parliament member after a meeting with Michel Barnier yesterday

Arlene Foster DUP leader and Diane Dodds a DUP European parliament member after a meeting with Michel Barnier yesterdayEPA

In the absence of a comprehensive EU-UK trade partnership after Brexit, the EU is seeking a "backstop" arrangement whereby Northern Ireland would effectively remain subject to the bloc's regulations to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland.

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".

Theresa May's ministers are threatening to walk out of her government over her reported plans to keep Britain potentially tied to a customs union with the EU permanently after Brexit.

British Prime Minister Theresa May struggled on Friday to find consensus on a Brexit plan that would be acceptable to her ministers, her divided Conservative Party and the Northern Irish lawmakers who prop up her minority government.

"Nearly two and a half years on from the (EU membership) referendum, we are, both on the European Union deal and on other post-Brexit trade deals, still lost in campaign mode on fantasy island", Rogers said in a highly critical speech Wednesday in Cambridge.

"There should not be international-style borders within it".

It is understood that a number of ministers voiced concern at a meeting with the PM in Downing Street on Thursday that any such backstop could leave the United Kingdom in an open-ended customs union, preventing it from seeking trade deals elsewhere in the world.

Out the door? Could Andrea Leadsom resign from the cabinet over the backstop deal?

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That would necessitate product standard checks on some goods coming into Northern Ireland from elsewhere in the UK.

Britain will continue to enforce European Union economic sanctions in force when it leaves the bloc on March 29, even if it does not secure an exit deal.

However, she declined to say the backstop would be "time-limited", a phrase which was in the original proposal published by London in June.

However, shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer said that ministers had "barely scratched the surface" of what would need to be done in the event of no-deal.

Earlier, Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey, who was not at the Downing Street meeting, refused to endorse the prime minister's blueprint for Brexit.

Her party has threatened to cause a political crisis by voting down Philip Hammond's Budget if Mrs May gives way to Brussels and Mrs Foster said: "The DUP's actions this week are not as some have suggested about "flexing muscle".

Mr Raab said: "We're confident we will have continuity on Eurostar, even in the worst case scenario of a "no deal" situation".

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