Published: Fri, October 12, 2018
Money | By Arnold Ball

European Union officials warned to prepare for no-deal Brexit

European Union officials warned to prepare for no-deal Brexit

However, a small Northern Irish party which supports May's minority government in the Westminster parliament vehemently opposes any checks between the province and the rest of Britain.

Barnier earlier in the day briefed European Union commissioners on the negotiations.

Theresa May will on Thursday ask her Brexit "war Cabinet" to agree a backstop plan that would keep Britain in a customs union with Brussels until a permanent trade deal can be agreed.

Democratic Unionist Party Brexit spokesman Sammy Wilson told Ireland's RTE radio on Thursday the party's 10 members of parliament would vote against the United Kingdom budget and would consider voting no-confidence in May if the British government crosses the DUP's red lines in Brexit talks.

He said: "She will not have DUP support regardless of whether the Government tries to bribe, bully or browbeat us into accepting it".

The DUP has 10 MPs, although Ian Paisley can not vote in the Commons until November 20 after being suspended for failing to declare two family holidays paid for by the Sri Lankan government.

"They [the EU] said they think this is an awesome deal you are getting, something nobody else in the world has even been offered", said Seamus Leheny, the director of policy at the Freight Transport Association of Northern Ireland, who was at the meeting.

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New British proposals over the Irish border "backstop" have raised hopes that a deal can be reached at the crucial European Council summit which begins in Brussels next Thursday.

The de-facto Deputy Prime Minister was pressed on the DUP's support when he appeared on ITV's Peston on Wednesday night.

The OBR, an independent non-departmental public body, said it was "next to impossible" to predict the consequences of a no-deal Brexit.

Last night, it was suggested a group of up to 30 Tory Remainers were considering forming a rival campaign to fight Jacob Rees-Mogg's European Research Group of Eurosceptics with the aim of voting down Mrs May's Brexit deal because of fears it would wreck the economy.

Michel Barnier, the EU's chief Brexit negotiator, said yesterday that a deal on the Withdrawal Agreement is "within reach", but only if Britain remains in a customs union with the EU.

But he stuck to the EU's rejection of London's plan for a "regulatory framework for goods", saying it would give Britain an unfair competitive advantage by allowing access to parts of the bloc's single market without ensuring the country honours all of its conditions.

The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) said it may take "many years" for free trade agreements to generate significant benefits for the United Kingdom after it leaves the European Union. "I sympathize with her on that but there is no answer to that problem", he told the audience.

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