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"Trade from Great Britain into Northern Ireland would be in danger of restriction".

A Brexit deal is "within reach" next week, European Union negotiator Michel Barnier said on Wednesday (Oct 10), even as he rammed home his insistence that Britain must accept possible checks on trade between its mainland and Northern Ireland.

The agreement will also see Northern Ireland remain within the single market in a bid to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland, should both sides fail to secure a trade deal after the transition period.

On Wednesday evening, DUP MPs abstained in a minor agricultural vote in Westminster to show they are not afraid to strong-arm the Government over proposed plans for the Irish backstop.

The Prime Minister is likely to face a major backlash from Eurosceptics within her party over the plans, with Leave-backing Cabinet members expected to resist such concessions.

DUP leader Arlene Foster, who has been in Brussels this week for talks with European Union officials, repeated her warning that she would not accept anything that threatened the integrity of the UK. It must be one of the worrying questions for Downing Street.

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The Northern Irish party that British Prime Minister Theresa May's government relies on for support says it will consider backing a vote of no-confidence if May agrees to European Union checks on goods entering the region post-Brexit.

At least three eurosceptic Cabinet ministers are said to be considering quitting over the latest concession, which appears to contradict Mrs May's promise earlier this year that the backstop would expire "at the very latest by the end of December 2021".

Theresa May will on Thursday ask her Brexit "war Cabinet" to agree a backstop plan that would keep Britain in a customs union with Brussels until a permanent trade deal can be agreed.

While talks with Brussels have intensified since May emerged from her infighting Conservative party conference last week, there has been no breakthrough.

The party's Brexit spokesman Sammy Wilson later explicitly warned the Government against doing a deal that kept Northern Ireland in the Single Market, writing in the Telegraph the party could not support "any deal which includes such economically and constitutionally damaging arrangements".

The deal believed to be on the table involves keeping the whole United Kingdom in an "arrangement" that effectively preserves the existing EU customs union, ensuring the goods continue to move freely over the Irish land border regardless of the future trade relationship between London and Brussels.


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