BORIS Johnson has reportedly been given a lifeline by the Democratic Unionist Party in the Irish backstop battle.
Last night it was said the DUP has agreed to a move that could pave the way for a Brexit deal.
DUP leader Arlene Foster said the party would be ‘keen to see a sensible deal’[/caption]
The Times reported the party accepted some changes that would see Northern Ireland sticking to some European Union rules post-Brexit.
But it would be a new deal to replace the hard Irish backstop, a sticking point for many in the Brexit negotiations.
The paper claimed the DUP, the biggest party in Northern Ireland, had also privately said it would drop its objection to regulatory checks in the Irish Sea.
A point it had previously said was unacceptable as it would separate Northern Ireland politically and economically from the mainland.
It was claimed that in return Brussels would let go of its insistence on Northern Ireland stays in a customs union with the EU.
Leader Arlene Foster tweeted the party would be “keen to see a sensible deal” but added “not one that divides the internal market of the UK”.
She was adamant: “We will not support any arrangements that create a barrier to East West trade.”
The source told The Times the move had been described as “significant”, but urged a deal was “a long way off”.
This proposal is said to have been talked over on Monday when Mr Johnson had a meeting with Leo Varadkar, the Irish Prime Minister.
Earlier this week we told how Mr Johnson ruled out a Northern Ireland only backstop after an Irish EU chief said chances of a Brexit deal are rising.
The backstop, the most controversial element of Theresa May’s deal, has been a constant stumbling block in Brexit negotiations.
But the PM was handed a boost this week when Phil Hogan, a nominee for EU trade commissioner, said the “penny had dropped” after he suggested an “all-Ireland” farming market after our divorce from the bloc.
He later told RTE: “I also note that the British prime minister has moved away from his position…where he’s now prepared to look at divergence of certain rules and regulations on the island of ireland vis-a-vis the United Kingdom.
“So I think there’s movement happening on both sides.”
Under the plan, Northern Ireland would match Irish and EU rules in certain sectors after Brexit to avoid the need for a hard border.
The idea mimics a compromise offer The Sun revealed European capitals were brainstorming – where the province would mirror Brussels on animal and plant health.
The PM’s comments came after he had crunch Brexit talks with DUP boss Arlene Foster and the party’s Westminster leader Nigel Dodds in No10 on Tuesday.
Foster said they had a “very good meeting” and the government would not back the idea of a northern Irish backstop because it would not have “unionist consent”.
Mr Johnson was also warned against breaking the law over Brexit by Speaker John Bercow, who vowed “creativity” in Parliament would scupper a no-deal exit.
The warning came as the EU’s chief negotiator said there is “no reason to be optimistic” that a new agreement can be brokered before the Prime Minister’s deadline to ask for a delay.
Michel Barnier told political leaders in the European Parliament on Thursday he was unable to say whether contacts with the UK Government would result in a deal by mid-October.
The PM is legally bound to ask Brussels for an extension to Article 50 if he cannot get MPs to back a deal by October 19, after Parliament approved legislation designed to prevent a no deal.
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And this week Scotland’s highest civil court ruled on Wednesday that the prorogation was unlawful because it was obtained for the “improper purpose of stymying Parliament”.
Mr Johnson said the High Court in England had taken the opposite view to the Court of Session in Edinburgh and that the case would now be decided in the Supreme Court.
He also insisted he was “very hopeful” that he could secure a deal by the EU summit starting on October 17.
Mr Johnson ruled out a Northern Ireland only backstop earlier in the week[/caption]
Ms Foster had crunch talks with the PM this week[/caption]
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