Theresa May secured private concessions from Brussels, which would keep Britain in the customs union after Brexit “unless and until” new trading arrangements mean the backstop is no longer needed, the Sunday Times reported on Saturday.
The plan is said to be a potential end to the Northern Ireland border issue that has plagued Brexit negotiations since they began more than two years ago.
But proposals prompted fury from Brexiteers, with Jacob Rees-Mogg branding it a “major breach of faith” and David Davis and Boris Johnson warning the temporary “backstop” will turn into “never-ending”.
In a bid to ensure this would not be the case, Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab held a private meeting with Irish deputy prime minister Simon Coveney, during which he proposed that within three to six months of the Irish backstop coming into effect, Britain would have the right to pull out.
Under his proposal, the UK would be able to trigger a “review mechanism” in which the backstop would only continue “by mutual consent”.
However, EU senior sources told the Telegraph Mr Raab’s plan would set back the prospect of striking a deal by the end of this week, as “the idea that an alternative arrangement that delivers no hard border in Ireland would be ready in three months is totally unrealistic”.
The source added it was “hard to believe” Mr Raab was not aware of that.
Mr Raab’s position was apparently contradicted by David Lidington, the UK’s Minister for Cabinet Office and pseudo deputy prime minister, when during a visit to Dublin for a British-Irish conference he claimed the EU and Britain were “very close” to a deal.
Mrs May is expected to discuss the plan with Cabinet on Tuesday and agree on the final details with the EU at a special summit later this month.
The Prime Minister is expected to warn Brexiteers that if they reject the deal they will be blamed for causing a damaging no deal scenario.
However, Tory backbencher Mark Pritchard was one of the many MPs who told Mrs May her plan would lead to “severe punishment” for the party at the next General Election.
Mr Pritchard said on Twitter: “Getting it wrong once is better than getting it wrong twice – but it’s still getting it wrong. Wrong being: not delivering Brexit.
“Not so much fake News as a Fake Brexit. Severe punishment at General Election if this goes ahead. Appears any old deal now better than no deal (WTO).”
But Downing Street last night branded the report “speculation”.
A spokesman for the Prime Minister said: “This is all speculation.
“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.”
Source : EXPRESS