18 Days Remaining

Wednesday 6th
posted by Lamiat Sabin in Britain

COLLAPSED negotiations between the government and EU officials over the Irish border show that the “DUP tail wags the Tory dog,” Sir Keir Starmer told MPs yesterday.

The inconclusive talks have been an “embarrassment,” the shadow Brexit secretary added.

The ultra-conservative DUP — whose 10 MPs prop up Ms May’s minority government — scuppered any chance of a deal being struck during her working lunch in Brussels.

DUP leader Arlene Foster announced, while Ms May was with European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker, that her party would not back proposals that would see Northern Ireland aligned with Ireland in following EU customs regulations to enable a “soft border” between them.

In the Commons yesterday during the urgent question, Mr Starmer derided the “shambles” and “complete mess” the government has made of Brexit talks.

He called for the deadline of March 29 2019 for Britain to exit the EU to be abandoned and for options such as staying in the customs union to be put “back on the table” to resolve the Irish border problem – proposals likely to be seen by Leave voters as attempts to reverse the referendum decision.

Labour MP Kate Hoey, who campaigned to leave the EU, said the “government is not being tough enough” arguing that EU officials should be blamed for sowing discord between Northern Ireland and Ireland.

Remain-supporting Labour MPs including Liz Kendall, Yvette Cooper, Angela Eagle and Chuka Umunna called for the regulatory alignment to EU regulations to be adopted by the whole of Britain or for it to stay in the customs union and single market.

But Brexit Secretary David Davis claimed that a comprehensive trade deal, associated regulatory alignment for certain industries and a customs agreement would replace membership of the customs union and single market.

On the Irish border problem, Mr Davis said the government had no intention of allowing “one part of the United Kingdom” to remain inside the customs union and single market, and said bids by the mayor of London and Scottish and Welsh first ministers for similar special arrangements were “a foolish mistake.”

Ms May plans to return to Brussels to persuade leaders of the remaining 27 EU nations at a summit on December 14-15 that “sufficient progress” has been made on divorce issues to move negotiations on to a trade deal.