European Union rejects UK Government 'unworkable' Irish border proposals
The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, is said to have suspended talks on the future EU-UK trade deal
UK and European flags - Image credit: Press Association
Theresa May has been dealt another blow after the European Union rejected out of hand the UK Government's proposals for avoiding a hard border in Ireland after Brexit.
The Daily Telegraph reports that senior EU diplomatic sources provided a "systematic and forensic annihilation" of the UK's ideas in talks with Olly Robbins, the UK’s lead Brexit negotiator, this week.
Britain has suggested a "customs partnership" with the EU, or using technological solutions, as a way of avoiding physical checks at the frontier between the Republic and Northern Ireland.
But one source told the Telegraph: "It was made clear that none of the UK’s customs options will work. None of them."
The paper added that while the UK expected a sceptical response from their counterparts, they were left “shocked” by the outright rejection.
The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, is also said to have suspended internal talks on the future EU-UK trade deal.
The damning assessment could mean that unless Whitehall figures are able to come up with new ideas, the UK may face no other option but to remain in the trading bloc.
The Prime Minister said last month that remaining in the EU customs union would “not be compatible with a meaningful independent trade policy”.
The Telegraph also understands that the Prime Minister will begin weekly meetings of her inner Brexit ‘war cabinet’, starting as early as next week, in a bid to solve the problem ahead of June's European Council summit.
The blow piles further pressure on the UK Government after the House of Lords overwhelmingly supported an amendment to its flagship Brexit bill urging ministers to seek a customs union with the EU.
MPs are also set to vote on the demands for a customs union next week, with the UK Government braced for another embarrassing defeat.
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British officials are reported to be “putting out feelers” in Brussels on an extension to the two-year process