Brexit Deadline:Prime Minister Boris Johnson will know in few days whether he can secure a Brexit deal with the European Union.
The UK formal proposals are due to be submitted to Brussels later this week, and Johnson said on Tuesday it will soon become apparent if there is “no way of getting it over the line from their point of view”.
Johnson has urged leaders in Brussels, Dublin and Berlin to work with him as the “rubber hits the road” in efforts to strike a deal before the scheduled Brexit date on October 31.
His comments came after Dublin rejected reported proposals for customs posts along both sides of the Irish border to replace the backstop.
The suggestion sent to the EU by the UK would lead to the posts being built between 3km and 6km (five and 10 miles) back from the current border.
Simon Coveney, deputy Irish premier, said Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland “deserve better”.
But Johnson said those were preliminary ideas that had been floated rather than the formal proposals which are expected to be set out later this week after the conference of his Conservative Party finishes on Wednesday.
“But clearly this is the moment when the rubber hits the road. This is when the hard yards really are in the course of the negotiations.”
The Irish border question has become the main stumbling block to a Brexit deal.
The backstop is a contingency plan which would keep Northern Ireland closely aligned to Brussels’ customs and regulatory rules if no other method is found to prevent a hard border – is loathed by Brexiteers and Johnson is determined to remove it from the Withdrawal Agreement that predecessor Theresa May negotiated with the EU.
“The difficulty really is going to be around the customs union and to what extent Northern Ireland can be retained within EU bodies at all,” Johnson said.
“We’re going to make a very good offer, we are going to be tabling it very soon, but there is a difficulty if you try to keep Northern Ireland in a customs union because one of the basic things about being a country is you have a single customs perimeter and a single customs union.”
The idea for the customs posts was contained in the so-called “non-papers” submitted by UK officials during recent technical discussions.
European Commission spokeswoman Mina Andreeva said: “We have not received any proposals from the United Kingdom that meet all the objectives of the backstop, as we have been reiterating and demanding.”
She added: “It’s the UK’s responsibility to come forward with workable and legally operational solutions that meet all of the objectives of the backstop.”