DUP threat over Brexit backstop deal

EU’s Barnier calls for ‘decisive progress’ on Brexit for summit next week

However, it is now felt the timetable may slip.

A British government spokesman said last night although negotiators had made "real progress" there remain "unresolved issues relating to the backstop".

"A backstop can not be time-limited".

Britain refuses to be pinned down on a date for a fixed Brexit deal.

People familiar with both sides of the negotiation told Bloomberg earlier that the biggest obstacle was to avoid a border emerging on the island of Ireland without erecting one between Northern Ireland and Britain.

It is now not clear what, if anything, leaders of the 27 countries that will remain in the European Union can agree to when they gather over dinner on Wednesday, before British Prime Minister Theresa May joins them at a regular summit on Thursday.

"I am cautiously optimistic that we can take steps next week but a lot depends on the talks happening in the coming days", Rutte said at his weekly press conference.

May, who has said repeatedly that she could not countenance the breakup of the United Kingdom, is struggling to find a way to satisfy the demands of not only the European Union, but of her Conservative Party and partner in Parliament, Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party (DUP).

Mrs May's counter-proposal, set out in June, was for a "temporary customs arrangement" for the whole United Kingdom, but Tory Brexiteers are suspicious this could turn into a permanent situation - restricting the freedom to strike trade deals around the world.

May also confirmed a disagreement over whether the backstop would be temporary - Brussels wants no time limit, arguing that by its nature, the insurance policy must be permanent.

Resolving the issue is crucial to concluding agreement on the UK's withdrawal, quite apart from future trade terms, on which there is also substantial discord over May's so-called "Chequers" plan.

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"If those obligations are not fulfilled on the Government side then there has to be consequences".

Even if the negotiators themselves agree on a deal, it is not the end of the matter.

Theresa May is under more domestic pressure than ever not to cede more ground to the EU.

May is stuck between a rock and a hard place as she faces potential resignations from her Cabinet and tensions with the DUP if she sticks to her proposed customs arrangement.

Two former ministers who did resign in July have weighed in.

Britain's former ambassador to the European Union has called Prime Minister Theresa May's blueprint for Brexit a "pipe dream" that has no chance of being accepted by the bloc.

The DUP, which has threatened to pull support from the government over the backstop row, said it now believed a no-deal Brexit was nearly inevitable and described the talks in Brussels as turning into a "battle for the union".

He also said that the party would oppose the government if the deal involved European Union regulations being applied to goods and services produced in Northern Ireland and checks on movements of goods from Great Britain to Northern Ireland. Protestant one. Decades ago, over 3,700 people were killed in Northern Ireland amid 30 years of violence between the two groups and Britain, which ended with a 1998 peace deal.

With less than six months to go until the United Kingdom is due to leave the EU, May is seeking to rally support at home on the details of a divorce deal though it is unclear if she can win parliament's approval for any agreement. "For months she's been making moves around the board, but she's slowly been hemmed in".

Arlene Foster, the head of the Northern Irish party that props up her government, was quoted as saying she expects a no-deal exit because May's proposals on the Irish border are unacceptable.

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