UK Risks Crashing Out of EU Without Deal, Irish Premier Says

British Prime Minister Theresa May arrives for an informal dinner ahead of a summit with leaders of the six Western Balkans countries in Sofia Bulgaria

British Prime Minister Theresa May arrives for an informal dinner ahead of a summit with leaders of the six Western Balkans countries in Sofia Bulgaria

Theresa May has committed Britain to leaving the customs union as part of Brexit, but what system replaces this is now the subject of fierce debate among the Prime Minister's top team.

Britain, Ireland and the rest of the European Union all want to avoid creating a customs border on the island, since it could separate communities, impede trade and resurrect memories of past violence.

"We agreed in December and in March to a backstop, but the subsequent legal text that was put forward by the European Union we believe was unacceptable", May's spokeswoman said.

Earlier Mrs May - who also held talks with European Council president Donald Tusk and commission president Jean-Claude Juncker - denied a report the United Kingdom could remain tied to the customs union for years after formally leaving the bloc while the future arrangements are resolved.

The tariffs govern the duties levied on goods arriving in the customs union, the EU's trading bloc, which Britain is now a member of.

She said: "Once the implementation period is finished we will be able to not only negotiate and sign trade deals but implement them". "It again sounds like trying to have the cake and eat it, like picking what they like, but not the rest", the official said.




"If we are not making real and substantial progress by June then we need to seriously question whether we're going to have a Withdrawal Agreement at all", he told reporters on Thursday. "It would certainly help us continue to trade between Britain and Ireland much as we do now".

The final deadline for an agreement between Britain and the EU is October, but progress on the deal will be reviewed at the European Council summit next month.

If no better ideas emerge, the bloc wants the backstop clause under which it would go on regulating trade in Northern Ireland after Brexit to prevent a hard border.

Failure to avoid a hard border would likely see the European Union refuse to sign a withdrawal agreement and leave Britain out of the bloc next March without even so much as a transition period.

UKMPG's new leader, Forth Ports CEO Charles Hammond, told the FT last week that Britain's seaports are "ready and prepared" for Brexit. But the move could create obstacles to business between Britain's Northern Ireland and EU-member Ireland.

PM Theresa May today repeatedly pleadged that Britain would leave the EU customs union in 2020.

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