Liam Fox Says UK Must Be Able To Unilaterally End Brexit Backstop

Liam Fox: UK must be able to withdraw from Irish backstop

A memorandum leaked from within the British government gives a taste of a possible finale to the Brexit drama: Prime Minister Theresa May hails a deal in just over 10 days, supporters cheer as arranged, and the pact is put to a vote in parliament on November 27.

"It appears the Prime Minister is wedded to the idea of a border down the Irish Sea with Northern Ireland in the European Union single market regulatory regime".

Britain leaves the European Union on March 29, but a deal must be sealed in the coming weeks to leave enough time for parliaments to endorse it.

Fox said the cabinet needed to have the "fullest possible information" before deciding whether to back May's Brexit deal in parliament.

Nevertheless, according to her spokesman, May opened the meeting by saying that while the United Kingdom should aim to conclude the withdrawal agreement as soon as possible, this would "not be done at any cost". Earlier Tuesday he told Belgian television RTBF that, as of that moment, there remained "a real point of divergence" on the Irish issue.

What's missing is the most contentious part of the deal - the guarantee to keep goods trade flowing freely across the Irish border.

Brexiters are adamant that there must be a mechanism that would allow the United Kingdom to leave, and many back one that would allow the United Kingdom to withdraw unilaterally - without Brussels' consent - which has been rejected by figures such as the Irish Prime Minister, Leo Varadkar.

A UK-wide customs deal would maintain quota-free and tariff-free access to European markets for the British fishing industry and in return the EU wants to keep continued access to United Kingdom waters for its trawlers, the newspaper said. Jeffrey Donaldson, an MP from Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), whose support props up May's government, said Dublin's refusal to budge could scupper a deal.

The EU has made concessions on the biggest hurdle in the talks - the Irish border backstop or an emergency fix to ensure the frontier there stays open regardless of how Brexit goes - but there are still differences on the life span of such a solution, a review mechanism or the depth of regulatory alliance under the all-UK backstop, which has been sought by London. Work is continuing on this, he said, adding: "Don't be under any illusions that there remains a significant amount of work to do".

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