No-deal Brexit could cost businesses 20 bln stg a year,…

GETTY•CHANNEL 4Brexit news Bernard Henri Levy said Britain will become

The EU's Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier welcomed the publication but stuck by the conditions that have led to a stalemate in the talks so far, and made clear Brussels would not accept any legal time-limit.

The prime minister has refused to guarantee her proposed Brexit "backstop" will end in December 2021, despite the date being stated as an expectation in a government negotiating paper.

In essence, the Guardian explains, the UK's backstop or fallback proposal is for the whole of the United Kingdom to remain in the customs union for a limited period after the end of the transition period - so it would leave the EU in March 2019 and the single market in December 2020, but stay in the customs union for a while longer.

Ministers are also concerned as it does not state that Britain will be able to unilaterally decide when the backstop should end, which had been one of their key demands, the Telegraph reported. Amendments passed by the House of Lords, and due for an MPs' vote next Tuesday, would require the Government to try to negotiate a customs union and continued membership - alongside non-EU countries like Norway - of the European Economic Area (EEA).

Theresa May's latest Brexit proposals received a frosty reception in Brussels, with chief European Union negotiator Michel Barnier raising objections to her plan for a time-limited customs backstop covering the whole UK.

And Labour MP Ian Murray, a supporter of the People's Vote campaign for a second referendum, said: "Theresa May's flimsy Brexit proposal has lasted less than 24 hours".

A Downing Street source said the language in the agreement "is all expectations and aspirational", adding that "DD hasn't got anything concrete".

But he said: "We are not going to be intimidated by this form of blame game".

The final withdrawal deal, and anything agreed that covers the future relationship, will have to be ratified in all of the parliaments across the European Union before the March 2019 Brexit date.

Yesterday's agreement is created to provide a "backstop" - a guarantee of no hard border in Northern Ireland should other solutions fail. "The temporary backstop is not in line with what we want or what Ireland and Northern Ireland want and need". Barnier said he and his team are still studying Britain's offer, but that London appears to want to keep the whole of the parts of the customs union.

"The point is, do we reach quick decisions or do we reach the right decisions?"

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".

A spokesman for the Department for Exiting the European Union said: "Our amendment removes Parliament's ability to direct the government in relation to negotiations, which would set a huge constitutional precedent in terms of which branch of the state holds the prerogative to act in the worldwide sphere".

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