As it happenedended1532110632

Brexit - as it happened: Barnier dissects May's blueprint with concerns about fraud, border checks and fair competition

Benjamin Kentish
Political Correspondent
,Lizzy Buchan,Ashley Cowburn
Friday 20 July 2018 08:43 BST
What is still needed to complete a deal with the EU?

Michel Barnier, the EU's chief Brexit negotiator, has delivered the EU 27's response to the Theresa May's Brexit plan.

He welcomed several elements of the proposals agreed by ministers at Chequers but raised concerns over whether they are compatible with the integrity of the EU's single market. He also cited border checks, unfair competition and potential fraud as other possible problems.

Earlier on Friday, Theresa May used a speech in Northern Ireland to call on the EU to accept the UK's Brexit proposals.

Visiting the region for the first time since taking office, the prime minister sought to reassure residents and businesses that she is committed to maintaining a soft border with the Republic of Ireland. She insisted that her government's Brexit plan "works for the whole UK, including Northern Ireland" and said it is "now for the EU to respond".

See below for live updates


Welcome to The Independent's live coverage from Westminster.

Kristin Hugo20 July 2018 09:16

Theresa May is expected to use her speech in Belfast this morning to tell the EU it is now up to them to ensure a hard border is not introduced between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

Kristin Hugo20 July 2018 09:22

Karen Bradley, the Northern Ireland secretary, has warned of the consequences of a no-deal Brexit, saying it would have "an awful lot of implications".

She told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: 

"If we crashed out with absolutely no relationship with the European Union there would be an awful lot of implications from that and we have quite rightly been planning for it.

But what we are planning for is actually getting the deal."

She also dismissed EU proposals for a "backstop" that would see Northern Ireland, but not the rest of the UK, remain in the customs union.

She said:

"The idea that we would have a border down the Irish Sea, which would mean that Northern Irish and GB businesses doing business with each other would have to fill in customs declarations in advance of shipment going across the Irish Sea, is inconceivable. It is not acceptable and the prime minister will not accept it."

Kristin Hugo20 July 2018 09:31

French European affairs minister, Nathalie Loiseau, said political chaos in the UK was making the Brexit negotiations more complicated.

Stressing that the EU's position had been firmly set out, Ms Loiseau told reporters in Brussels: "We will work on the basis of our principles and see to what extent our British partner fully gets it, including the British parliament."

She added: "We know that there have been amendments to different provisions in Britain which makes it even harder for us to discuss with our British partner."

On Northern Ireland, she said the backstop had to be "weatherproof" and so far "we have not seen another solution which would be proposed and accepted by the 27".

Lizzy Buchan20 July 2018 09:45

Labour is stepping up its preparations for entering Number 10 by drawing up a draft Queen's Speech, ensuring it is ready for a snap general election.

More here: 

Lizzy Buchan20 July 2018 10:02

Brexit contingency plans are needed to prevent a “complete meltdown” if talks with the UK fail to reach agreement by October, Brussels has warned.

The European Commission on Thursday sent all member states guidelines on how to prepare for negotiations failing, while senior EU officials warned that the “volatile” political situation in the UK made the outcome of talks hard to predict.

More here:

Lizzy Buchan20 July 2018 10:19

The row over whether the Tory chief whip should resign over breaking a voting pact is ongoing.

Northern Ireland secretary Karen Bradley said Julian Smith had made an "honest mistake" when he ordered Tory Party chairman Brandon Lewis to break a pairing agreement with an MP on maternity leave during a crucial Brexit vote.

The former whip also twice declined to say if his job was at stake.

Asked if he was going to have to resign, she told the Today programme: "Well, you know, I know everybody is fascinated by the workings of the Whips' Office.

"House Of Cards has always been a pretty successful programme, in my experience.

"But I was a whip, I can tell you that, at the point where you have a number of difficult votes - and let's be clear, over the last few days we have had a dozens, it turns out, of difficult votes - mistakes happen.

"It was an honest mistake. The Chief Whip has apologised."

Pressed again on his future, she said: "As I've said, he has apologised."

Lizzy Buchan20 July 2018 10:28

Businesses and consumers are going to be sent technical notices on how to prepare for a no-deal Brexit, under government plans reported in The Times today.

The prime minister revealed the proposals during an appearance before the liaison committee on Wednesday, where she said around 70 notices would be sent out during August and September.

Here's our report of the proceedings:

Lizzy Buchan20 July 2018 10:46

Theresa May is now speaking in Belfast.

She underlines the importance of Northern Ireland in the union, and says 'far more unites than divides us' across the UK.

Lizzy Buchan20 July 2018 11:03

Lizzy Buchan20 July 2018 11:05

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