Financial Times reports: UK PM Theresa May says Brexit deal is close

Eileen GuzmanOct 12, 2018

Commenting on the Irish backstop, Barnier said the EU's plan to keep Northern Ireland in the Single Market and customs union would help keep the border invisible - a goal of both sets of negotiators.

DUP leader Arlene Foster, who has been in Brussels this week for talks with European Union officials, repeated her warning that she would not accept anything that threatened the integrity of the UK.

On Wednesday evening, DUP MPs abstained in a minor agricultural vote in Westminster to show they are not afraid to strong-arm the Government over proposed plans for the Irish backstop.

On Wednesday DUP Brexit spokesman Sammy Wilson warned the Prime Minister that his party would pull support and collapse her government if Northern Ireland was left "languishing in the stifling embrace of the EU" after Brexit.

He added: "When we entered into the confidence and supply arrangement with the Government, we did so to enable it to deliver on the fiscal elements of its domestic programme and the referendum result to leave the EU". It would have implications not just for Brexit legislation - 50% of which would not have passed without DUP support - but also for the Budget, welfare reform and other domestic legislation.

But he said that checks on animals and animal food products passing between Northern Ireland and Great Britain would have to increase tenfold.

The DUP has 10 MPs, although Ian Paisley can not vote in the Commons until November 20 after being suspended for failing to declare two family holidays paid for by the Sri Lankan government.

The EU proposed a "backstop" solution to keep the Northern Ireland in the bloc's customs union and parts of the single market that underpins the 1998 peace agreement there - an option British prime minister Theresa May has rejected so far arguing it would create a border within the United Kingdom, in the North Sea between Northern Ireland and the mainland UK. It must be one of the worrying questions for Downing Street.

Full cabinet members concerned about the idea of an indefinite backstop include Andrea Leadsom, the leader of the Commons, and Esther McVey, the work and pensions secretary, who refused to specifically endorse May's Chequers blueprint for Brexit earlier on Thursday - although she insisted that she was "completely supportive of the prime minister".

"The prime minister is a unionist".

The European Union is doing all it can to ensure checks on goods moving across Northern Ireland's borders would be made "in the least intrusive way possible", for example on ferries, at ports or in factories of origin, he said.

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