The British government's chief legal adviser has been quietly added as a 12th member of the Cabinet sub-committee created to oversee London's Brexit negotiations with Brussels after ministers insisted they would not sign off on a deal without his advice.
Prime Minister Theresa May's Cabinet will discuss Brexit on Tuesday (Nov 6), and there were suggestions this weekend by members of her Conservative Party that she's preparing to give ministers an ultimatum to back a draft deal.
The EU has suggested that the tweaked "two-tier" backstop covering all of the United Kingdom could give mainland Britain some scope to set its own trade rules while keeping Northern Ireland aligned with the EU. However, the mainland could, if it wished, apply somewhat different rules without breaking the WTO regulations on global trade.
Northern Ireland would need to avoid diverging so far, in order to ensure that its land border was close to frictionless.
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Here, Labour leader Brendan Howlin said he remained "very fearful" Irish interests could be sacrificed by Europe to secure a deal and said Ireland has to be "vigilant".
"That is the idea", said one senior European Union diplomat briefed on the latest negotiations. The UK can not negotiate its own trade agreement while it is signed up the the customs union.
Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney had earlier said that neither Ireland nor the European Union would ever sign up to an agreement that could be ended unilaterally.
It would also keep Northern Ireland in the customs union of the EU, as long insisted by the bloc.
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The Brexit negotiations have turned out to be tougher than expected for both sides, with neither able to agree on major points such as the Irish border and post-Brexit economic relations.
May rejected that as creating new barriers between Northern Ireland and the British mainland.
"A backstop with a three month limit on it or an expiry date of that nature is not worth the paper it is written on and what the United Kingdom government signed up to is a legally operative backstop that will apply unless and until we have a new agreement to supersede it", he told reporters in Dublin this morning.
"I think it is vitally important that people no longer sit on the fence, people need to make their voices heard, so I very much welcome that civic nationalism have come together again to hold the Taoiseach to account for what he said a year ago".
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"If we can get a good deal, and that means removing all the frictions... the Chequers-type deal, as I say, if we don't have friction with trade, then, economically, I don't think it's going to make a particular big difference one way or the other".