Raab demand on Brexit backstop

Ireland's Taoiseach Leo Varadkar

Theresa May appears to have accepted that an open border with the Irish Republic is absolutely vital - despite its regular exploitation by organised criminals and illegal migrants - but can not leave Northern Ireland in the Customs Union by itself, as this would lead to customs checks between Britain's Home Nations.

The statement said that senior European Union figures like Donald Tusk, Jean-Claude Juncker and chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier "and indeed Theresa May herself" have all said there will not be a deal "without a legal guarantee of no hard Border in Ireland".

"The Democratic Unionist Party is rightly anxious about the future of the Union and many Conservatives are too".

Ireland has hit out at reports that Britain wants the right to pull Britain out of any so-called Irish border backstop arrangement after a short period of time.

Mr Lidington replied by saying: "We're certainly. very close to resolving it".

According to the newspaper, May is also planning to reach an agreement on the EU-UK post-Brexit economic partnership, as she aspires to ensure free trade between London and Brussels.

"The prime minister has been clear that we are making good progress on the future relationship and 95 percent of the withdrawal agreement is now settled and negotiations are ongoing".

"Obviously still having this issue in relation to the insurance arrangements for Northern Ireland and Ireland, and that very much remains our focus and attention in getting that deal".

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British Prime Minister Theresa May is "dancing on head of pin".

Mr Coveney's spokesperson said the European Union had been united through the Brexit process and the UK had given written commitments that the Withdrawal Agreement would give a legal guarantee of no return to a hard Border in Ireland in any circumstance.

Senior sources told the paper that May has secured concessions from Brussels, with the EU agreeing to write an "all-U.K." customs union into the divorce deal. "Are we being hurtled toward a Hotel California Brexit where we can check out but never leave?"

"Brexit has undermined the Good Friday Agreement" - the 1998 peace deal that ended three decades of violence in Northern Ireland - "and it is fraying relationships between Britain and Ireland", Varadkar said.

"We are not sitting on powder keg knowledge that we have signed a secret deal", the No 10 source said.

Chief Executives from Waterstones, Innocent Drinks and Lastminute.com stated that the United Kingdom faces either a "blindfold or a destructive hard Brexit" in the note.

Other people who put their name to the letter include Cobra Beer founder Lord Bilimoria, former Marks and Spencer chairman and ex-Labour peer Lord Myners, Alex Chesterman, founder of the Zoopla property website, and Sir Simon Robertson, the ex-chairman of Rolls-Royce.

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