Yesterday Michel Barnier, the EU chief Brexit negotiator, said there was still a ‘risk of failure’ in reaching an agreement. He added that there was agreement on three quarters of issues which need to be resolved by March 2019. The comments follow reports the EU has outright rejected the UK’s proposals for the Irish border.
One senior Brussels diplomat said if the Irish border remained problematic in June, it would be ‘a crisis’ for negotiations.
However, the UK claims the issue cannot be resolved until trade talks have been held.
Downing Street said the claim that UK proposals had been wholly rejected were untrue. The UK wishes to use technology to prevent the imposition of a hard border. No 10 said it was ‘confident’ that a mutually satisfactory deal could still be reached.
The news comes after the House of Lords voted that the UK government should seek membership of a customs union with the EU post-Brexit. MPs will now consider this in the House of Commons. The UK government is committed to not being in a customs union with the EU after the transition deal, but membership of one would solve the Irish border issue.