Theresa May’s plan for avoiding a hard border with Ireland has been rejected by the EU
JOHN THYS/ AFP/GETTY
Brussels rejects her key compromise as four ‘remain’ ministers on verge of quitting
Caroline Wheeler, Deputy Political Editor
November 11 2018, 12:01am
Theresa May has been plunged into a deeper crisis after Brussels rejected her key Brexit proposal, which was intended to avoid the UK being trapped in an indefinite customs union.
The prime minister had hoped to unite her cabinet and overcome the final hurdle in negotiations with the EU by offering to create an “independent mechanism” to oversee how the UK might leave a temporary customs arrangement if Brexit talks collapsed.
But this weekend senior EU officials sent shockwaves through No 10 by rejecting May’s plan, sparking fears that negotiations have broken down days before “no-deal” preparations costing billions need to be implemented.
The mechanism was seen by key members of the cabinet, including the attorney-general, Geoffrey Cox, as crucial to preventing the so-called Northern Irish “backstop” being used to force the UK into being a “never-ending rule-taker from Brussels”.
A Whitehall source described the plan as the government’s “life-support machine”, adding: “By rejecting the proposal, the EU has just turned off the oxygen.” A senior cabinet minister said: “This is the moment she has to face down Brussels and make it clear to them that they need to compromise, or we will leave without a deal.”