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Britain’s May to meet European Union leaders on Brexit deal

Britain’s May to meet European Union leaders on Brexit deal

Drawn up in meetings co-ordinated by housing minister Kit Malthouse, the proposal bearing his name recasts the backstop as a "free trade agreement-lite", with a commitment on all sides there should be no hard border and an extended transition period to December 2021.

May said that the open border in the Good Friday Agreement was "the cornerstone around which the community in Northern Ireland has come together to deliver peace and prosperity".

It follows a day in which the Prime Minister faced hard questions on the economy, as new data indicated the uncertainty over Brexit could be leading to a slowdown.

Since last November, the Irish World has been reporting on the case of Emma de Souza, now embroiled in a lengthy legal battle with the Home Office as they argue that she - and others who have yet to go public - can not exclusively identify as Irish, seemingly contravening birthright provisions resulting from the Good Friday Agreement.

For their part, pro-Brexit Tories expressed anger that May doesn't appear to have asked the European Union to abandon its insistence on the backstop arrangement to keep the Irish frontier open after Brexit.

The talks had been meant to explore ways to secure an orderly divorce after the British parliament rejected the deal negotiated by Prime Minister Theresa May.

Brussels has consistently demanded the backstop as an insurance policy to ensure the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic remains regardless of future UK/EU relations.

But agreeing a deal with Brussels is the other hurdle, and one that has no Irish backstop other than existing technical measures doesn't quite sound like their cup of tea.

"While there were those in Northern Ireland who favoured it, it is also true that the backstop is not supported by the two main Unionist parties here and it also influenced MPs in England, Scotland and Wales in voting against the deal".

Ms May said opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn "also believes the potential indefinite nature of the backstop is an issue", and that the European Union has "already accepted the principle of "alternative arrangements" superseding the backstop should it ever be required".

Fox said Britain would "be able to deal" with leaving the bloc without an agreement but it would not be in the country's interests.

However, Geraint Davies MP for the Best for Britain campaign said: "They said we would take back control of our borders but now the plan is to wave things through irrespective of our safety".

Suzanne Breen of the Belfast Telegraph asked: "Prime Minister, given that many business figures in this room may feel that you betrayed and shafted them on the backstop in your recent U-turn, why should they believe any of the pledges you made to them today?"

Plans for Britain to leave the bloc on March 29 under a withdrawal agreement signed a year ago were thrown into doubt when British lawmakers rejected the accord.

As a way to prevent a hard border, Brussels and London agreed a so-called backstop - basically a promise that unless the sides come up with a better idea then the United Kingdom would remain bound by European Union market and customs rules so that goods would not have to be checked.

May is set to return to Brussels this month in an attempt to try and change minds in the EU.

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