EU officials warned to prepare for no-deal Brexit

Jacob Rees-Mogg

Jacob Rees-Mogg

"If she doesn't take our concerns on board, we will take the view that Theresa May is not the leader to take us through to a safe Brexit".

Some Brexiteers say those proposals would ensure the EU kept control over swathes of the British economy and thus run counter to the spirit of her manifesto pledge to leave the EU Customs Union and the Single Market.

According to one of the academics who conducted "The Future of England Study", unionists' preference for Brexit over the territorial integrity of the United Kingdom "raises questions about the type of union we're in, and indeed what unionism means".

The backbenchers are mulling the decision to rebel against their own party should the Prime Minister clinch a deal with Brussels, rather than see the country suffer the economic impact of withdrawing without an agreement.

In order to make progress on the UK's withdrawal agreement at a European Council summit next week, Brussels and London must agree plans for a "backstop" to maintain the status quo along the Irish land border, with trade flowing freely between the Republic of Ireland and the north.

The DUP was concerned after Mr Barnier reportedly told the party in Brussels this week that Great Britain is entitled to sign a traditional free trade deal with the EU.

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She said there was evidence that Brexit was "dislodging long-held red lines about the union".

But Foster refused to consider such a compromise on Tuesday, saying: "What we said to Barnier is checks of themselves are symptomatic of something different, so we only need checks if Northern Ireland is following a different regulatory regime to the rest of the UK". Asked whether that implied her supporters are ready to "fight and die" for them, she replied: "What I meant by that is that they are deep red - they're not pink".

Rejection of any kind of special status for Northern Ireland inside the EU customs union by the DUP, which props up Mrs May's government, makes getting a deal through parliament much more challenging.

Former Brexit minister Steve Baker said up to 40 MPs were ready to vote against "a backstop that leaves us in the internal market and customs union come what may".

Earlier in the day, she told BBC Radio Ulster that it is "eminently possible" to reach a Brexit deal that "works for everyone" with weeks.

Mrs May will continue to dismiss the EU's proposals on the Irish border question, refusing to publish a backstop plan until Brussels negotiates a more favourable deal, her senior aides have said.

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