The PM’s preparations for a final deal are believed to be far more advanced than previously disclosed
Tim Shipman, Political Editor
November 4 2018, 12:01am,
The Sunday Times
Breakthrough on Irish border as PM woos Tory rebels
Theresa May’s secret plan to secure a Brexit deal and win the backing of parliament can be revealed today.
Senior sources say the prime minister has secured private concessions from Brussels that will allow her to keep the whole of Britain in a customs union, avoiding a hard border in Northern Ireland. They expect this to placate remainer Tories and win over some Labour MPs.
And in a move that will appeal to Eurosceptics, May is also said to be on course to secure a political deal on a “future economic partnership” (FEP) with the European Union that will allow Britain to keep open the prospect of a free trade deal resembling that enjoyed by Canada.
The Sunday Times has been told that preparations for a final deal are far more advanced than previously disclosed and will lead to a document of 50 pages or more when it is published — not the vague, five-page plan many expect.
Cabinet sources say parts of it “could have been written by Jacob Rees-Mogg”, the leader of the hardline Eurosceptics.
A close aide of Michel Barnier, the EU negotiator, revealed a major concession on the Irish border during a private meeting in London last week. The EU now accepts that regulatory checks on goods can take place “in the market” by British officials, meaning they can be conducted at factories and shops rather than at the border.
Downing Street officials are desperate to see enough progress this week for the EU to announce a special summit later in November to agree the final details. May will discuss the proposals with her cabinet on Tuesday.