Brexit: Irish rule out time-limited Brexit backstop

The Ministry of Defence will allow Commonwealth applicants who haven't resided in Britain for five years to join the British Armed Forces

Northern Irish MPs say it would mean a de-facto annexation of the province into the European Union after Brexit because, despite some minor tweaks to the wording of the backstop, it would still treat Northern Ireland separately to the rest of the United Kingdom.

However, sources said there was immediate disagreement over whether the proposal would give the United Kingdom the power to unilaterally call time on the backstop, with both the home secretary, Sajid Javid, and the foreign secretary, Jeremy Hunt, arguing that it must.

The Withdrawal Agreement is 95% complete, but the final outstanding issues need to be resolved within the week if the United Kingdom government is going to achieve its aim of finalising a deal this month.

But the spokesman cautioned: "Don't be under any illusion, there remains a significant amount of work to do".

The meeting came as hopes of a special Brexit summit to finalise the withdrawal agreement in November appeared to be receding.

"I don't want to go into the details, we're willing to consider improvements to the backstop but we need to reach an agreement for this backstop and we need a genuine backstop, an operational backstop to the point".

It comes as the Irish Prime Minister reminds the United Kingdom it's signed up to a legally operative backstop to avoid a hard border.

At a weekly cabinet meeting, May told ministers she expected an agreement and wanted it as soon as possible, but it would "not be done at any cost", according to her spokesman.

The conversation followed a report that Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab has privately demanded the right to pull Britain out of the Irish backstop after just three months.

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The notes say ministers would seek to claim "measured success", a deal that is "good for everyone", rather than claiming a victory with champagne corks popping.

A senior DUP figure has warned that the United Kingdom is hurtling towards a no deal Brexit, pinning the blame on the Irish Republic for its hard-line stance on the backstop.

But he made clear that he would not accept an arrangement which gave the United Kingdom unilateral powers to ditch the customs union without the agreement of Brussels.

"Such an outcome will have serious consequences for the economy of the Republic".

"Looks like we're heading for no deal", he wrote on Twitter, adding: "Can't understand why Irish government seems so intent on this course".

May spokesperson said it was likely that a further cabinet meeting would be held before a deal was agreed, hinting that this could happen later in the week.

'So, we think there's a deal to be had if they recognise that the deal is unacceptable to Parliament, I think that opens up a vista of the opportunity of the real negotiations'.

The UK will crash out of the European Union with a no deal Brexit, the Chief Whip of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) - the Tories' Westminster ally - has warned.

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