Theresa May's plan for Irish border 'annihilated' by EU

A spokesman for May said that he could not substantiate reports coming out of Wednesday's Brussels meeting that British proposals had been roundly rejected by the EU.

"It was made clear none of the UK's customs options will work", a source told the Daily Telegraph.

The development has put further pressure on the Prime Minister's plan to leave the customs union, which is also meeting resistance in both houses of Parliament. The easiest way to accomplish that would be to keep Northern Ireland in the EU customs unions, however, this is unacceptable to hardline unionists in Theresa May's government.

The Prime Minister's top Brexit adviser, Olly Robbins, met with European Union officials in Brussels on Wednesday to try and make progress with the most hard issue in negotiations.

There are three ways this could happen: either the United Kingdom actually retains membership of the single market and customs union (which May has always ruled out), some kind of technological solutions are found to address the specific problems in Ireland, or that Northern Ireland remains part of the single market while the rest of the United Kingdom leaves.

Mrs May had previously set out the UK's customs policy in a speech last month.

The "Irish question" of how Britain can balance an open Irish border while pulling Northern Ireland from the customs union and single market increasingly appears to be the one issue which could bring the Brexit process screeching to a halt.

The EU would not countenance allowing a country outside of its supervision and IT systems to levy duties, said it would place the burden of collecting tariffs on business and said that implementing the system on the EU side of the Channel would be too expensive.

A group of senior MPs introduced a House of Commons motion Thursday calling on May's government to seek "an effective customs union" with the EU as part of the negotiation over the U.K.'s future relationship with the bloc.

Mrs May's second proposal for a "highly streamlined customs arrangement" based on a trusted trader scheme and technological solutions, which included "specific provisions for Northern Ireland", was also rejected.

The UK Government will be forced to go back to the drawing board despite undertaking five rounds of technical negotiations with the European Union so far.

Chief negotiator Michel Barnier told French TV on Friday that 25% of the final withdrawal deal had still to be settled and it could still be derailed by disagreements over the border and other issues.

According to news reports, European Union negotiators have rejected as unworkable both of Britain's proposals to keep trade frictionless after Brexit, a "customs partnership" and a "streamlined customs arrangement".

"Without a solution, there will be no withdrawal agreement and no transition".


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