New survey shows 42% of people in the North want united Ireland

Posted June 09, 2018

Brussels had suggested effectively keeping Northern Ireland in a customs union with the bloc in the event a UK-EU agreement didn't prevent a hard border.

The UK, France, Germany, Italy, Canada, and Japan are expected to mount a concerted effort to persuade Donald Trump to rethink punitive tariffs imposed on steel and aluminium exports to the United States, with Mrs May saying she had made her views clear to Mr Trump and calling the tariffs "unjustified".

The survey also showed that only 47% of people in Northern Ireland identified themselves as strongly British. The DUP leader, Arlene Foster, said in early June that she would withdraw her support to May's government "if Northern Ireland was treated differently from the rest of the UK" after Brexit.

She added: "For too long we've been asked to swallow the lie that the votes of 17 million people - with their individual histories, experiences, and ideas - gave May a clear mandate to deliver whatever Brexit she can fashion, no matter how different that is from its original conception or how damaging it might prove to be".

The prime minister appeared to have avoided a full-blown Brexit crisis and an explosive cabinet resignation after a "constructive" discussion with Brexit secretary David Davis on Thursday morning.

"We have put a proposal on the table, on this backstop relating to Northern Ireland, we will now sit down and negotiate it with the European Union".

And he said Mrs May's plans for a temporary backstop were not in line with the needs of Brussels, Dublin or Northern Ireland for stability, turning one of her own slogans against her to declare: "Backstop means backstop".

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Both sides want a deal by October to avoid barriers on the Irish land border that might fuel new conflict in the north.

The Democratic Unionist Party accused Mr Barnier of lacking respect for the constitutional integrity of the United Kingdom, accusing him of "an outrageous attempt to revert to the annexation of Northern Ireland".

No one was immediately available to comment in May's office.

Theresa May is facing pressure from her Cabinet and a hard relationship with her euroskeptic Brexit Secretary David Davis, who was reportedly thinking of quitting in protest at May's plans for the UK's future tariff regime.

"The UK expects the future arrangement to be in place by the end of December 2021 at the latest" - a year after the end of the post-Brexit transition period. Notwithstanding the actual feasibility of this deadline, the ambiguity of that formulation raises two possible scenarios.

European Union officials say they are concerned that London is trying to use negotiations on the Irish border backstop, which Barnier again said must be completed as part of a withdrawal treaty before Brexit, to leverage a better position in longer-term talks on future trade and gain a "back-door" into the European Union market. "Because it has been designed for the specific situation of Northern Ireland", Barnier said.

Hookham says that with less than 300 days to the UK's scheduled departure from the European Union, and no progress made on trade talks, the lack of clarity over key issues is eroding the country's invaluable trading relationships with businesses overseas, and foreign businesses based in Britain. For a region that became famous for its divisions, such a role is nearly a historical irony.

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