Published: Mon, March 05, 2018
Global | By Craig Ferguson

Coveney warns United Kingdom border proposals just "a starting point" in Brexit talks

Coveney warns United Kingdom border proposals just

In a speech which refused to give ground on the key battles over the Irish border and the customs union, Ms May did announce plans to pursue associate membership of key EU agencies - at a price.

Theresa May warned the European Union that refusing to include financial services in a trade deal after Brexit would "hurt" its own economies, but admitted the United Kingdom would lose some trade access to its biggest market. In an interview on Sky News, he suggested the United Kingdom could negotiate both outcomes if it could change the tone of talks with Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier.

Scotland's first minister Nicola Sturgeon said she still hoped to build support for staying in the EU's single market and customs union - which May has ruled out. Life is going to be different.

The PM also claimed negotiators were "close to an agreement" on the terms of an implementation period, despite Mr Barnier warning this week that it was still not a given.

May, 61, has long kept her cards close to her chest, trying to avoid provoking those in Britain who want a clean break with the European Union, or others who fear the world's sixth-largest economy will suffer if barriers are raised against a major trading partner.

The Health Secretary gave the example of the pharmaceutical industry to illustrate how the plan could work, with the United Kingdom paying to be an associate member of the European Medicines Agency and blurring Mrs May's red line on not accepting ECJ jurisdiction to ensure the sector remains "wholly integrated" across the continent.

It will be very hard for May to clinch the bespoke trade deal she seeks with the European Union within the given time frame while keeping her deeply divided party on side and parliament, where she has only a narrow majority, broadly supportive.

Despite her efforts to quell fears of a hard border in Ireland, she accidentally began a sentence: "To achieve a hard border-".

"The reasons are wrong because in reality the Prime Minister is imprisoned by a hard core of her backbenchers threatening to call for her resignation if she deviates by the smallest margin from their prejudice towards Europe".

But he rejected suggestions that the United Kingdom would have to accept the fallback option of keeping Northern Ireland in an effective customs union with the EU.

The speech was well received by her confidence and supply partners the DUP, with the party's leader Arlene Foster "particularly welcoming" a commitment to "strengthen" the United Kingdom union.

It was also unclear whether Britain having access to the EU's financial markets in return for keeping similar standards to those of the bloc would be accepted in Brussels.

Michel Barnier said: "Clarity about the United Kingdom leaving the single market and customs union and recognition of trade-offs will inform EU Council guidelines re: a future free trade agreement".

But a row has broken out between Downing Street and Boris Johnson over how a letter from the Foreign Secretary ended up in the media this week.

"But we have to see more meaningful progress for sterling to break out of current ranges", said Marc Chandler, global head of FX strategy at Brown Brothers Harriman.

The Tory grandee dismissed the Prime Minister's Mansion House speech on Friday, saying it offered "the wrong answers at the wrong time for the wrong reasons".

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