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Theresa May says will not agree Brexit deal 'at any cost'

Theresa May says will not agree Brexit deal 'at any cost'”

The Brexit figurehead was responding to reports that Prime Minister Theresa May is close to striking a deal with Brussels which would allow the creation of a whole-UK customs union, avoiding the need for the Northern Ireland border "backstop" that has been at the heart of the impasse in negotiations.

Senior ministers are on standby for an emergency Cabinet meeting to approve a Brexit withdrawal deal as hopes rise that agreement with Brussels could be in sight. "The prime minister has been clear that we are making good progress on the future relationship, and 95 percent of the withdrawal agreement is now settled and negotiations are ongoing".

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

Downing Street later said there is no further cabinet meeting scheduled this week in order for ministers to reach an agreement on Brexit, although one could be held "at the appropriate moment".

Her optimism was immediately dampened by the EU's chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, who said that a deal on the Irish border was not "close" and that a "real point of divergence" on the issue remains. The agreement would "not be done at any cost", her official spokesman said.

British sources said there was "significant work still to resolve the outstanding matters", but indicated the Cabinet would be rapidly summoned if the pieces fell into place.

Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar told the Prime Minister on Monday that he was ready to consider a review mechanism as part of a "backstop" arrangement to keep the border with Northern Ireland open after Brexit.

"Backstop means backstop. And a backstop can not have a time limit".

The UK would effectively become a non-voting member of the European Union, forced to accept laws made in Brussels with no power to shape or amend them, he said.

Today we are giving practical and straightforward advice for people who wish to travel to Europe with their pets after we leave the European Union in the unlikely event of a no-deal situation.

Jeffrey Donaldson, an MP from Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), which props up May's government, said Dublin's refusal to budge could scupper a deal.

"He recalled the prior commitments made that the backstop must apply "unless and until" alternative arrangements are agreed."
A Downing Street spokesman described Mrs May's conversation with Mr Varadkar as "constructive", adding: "They agreed that the intention was that the backstop should only be a temporary arrangement and that the best solution to the Northern Ireland border would be found by agreeing a future relationship between the United Kingdom and the EU".

Donaldson said that he could not understand why the Irish government "seems so intent on this course".

He tweeted: "Such an outcome will have serious consequences for economy of Irish Republic".

Britons wanting to take their pooches or other beloved pets with them face a slew of new checks if there is a no deal Brexit.

Looks like we're heading for no deal.



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