Northern Ireland party rejects European Union plans on Ireland border

Northern Ireland party rejects European Union plans on Ireland border

EU President Donald Tusk issued a bold statement to Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May, saying that if talks about the UK's withdrawal from the bloc are to go ahead, she must find "realistic" proposals to avoid a hard border between Northern Ireland and the south.

Tusk, who met May last week, said the European Union would aim for an agreement "covering all sectors and with zero tariffs on goods", but said it must include access for European Union fishing boats to British waters - a highly sensitive issue for hardline Brexit supporters.

Tusk said this was the only kind of arrangement possible given Britain's demands, citing the EU's deal with Canada - which excludes financial services - as a model. Already the future of financial services is proving a major sticking point, the Chancellor Philip Hammond insisting again today it should be included in a future trade settlement, claiming that would be in everyone's interest.

"The European Council restates the Union's determination to have as close as possible a partnership with the United Kingdom in the future", the document says.

"So financial services can not be in a free trade agreement, but we have an alternative system which is called the equivalence regime".

The UK Chancellor of the Exchequer will challenge claims that financial services can not be part of a future free trade agreement with the European Union, building on Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit vision set out last week. Her ministers have been taken to task for trying "to have their cake and eat it" as they seek the best possible trade deal for Britain. Financial services can not be in a free trade agreement, for many reasons, for reasons of stability, for the sake of supervision because there are some very specific rules for financial services.

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London has previously said it will not remain subject to the EU's courts after Brexit.

Global trade secretary Liam Fox has urged Brexit negotiators to "keep the temperature down" as talks enter the critical future relationship phase.

However, he also said there could be "no winners" on Brexit, and that any agreement would be the first one to "loosen economic ties instead of strengthening them".

The guidelines warn up front that while the European Union wants ties to be "as close as possible", May's red lines for severing Britain from the world's biggest trading block "limit the depth of the future partnership". He said that leaving the EU, Britain's biggest trading partner, was "utter madness".

But he added he expected Britain to get an agreement similar to what it has been asking for. Anyway it will only be a trade agreement.

"However, I'm in no doubt that Mrs May will roll-over and allow the European Union to continue its dominance of the UK's fishing industry even after we leave the bloc".

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