Brexit: no 'divorce' payment without trade deal, says Dominic Raab

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May delivers a speech at the Waterfront Hall in Belfast, Northern Ireland on July 20, 2018.

The 500-kilometre (300 mile) border has become one of the biggest stumbling blocks in the negotiations.

The EU's plans to retain frictionless trade and travel between the island's two parts include keeping Northern Ireland closely aligned with the bloc's customs union, single market and Value-Added Tax system. "I think when we get to the autumn, if we are in the situation where we don't have any degree of agreement, we're going to have to start again".

The EU's other 27 member states will have a chance to examine and respond to the UK's Brexit white paper when its General Council of ministers meets in Brussels this morning.

Mrs May, who's just visited the Irish border, declared the European Union should "evolve" their position and not fall back on "unworkable" positions.

Raab met the EU's top negotiator Michel Barnier for the first time on Friday, where he heard doubts over May's new Brexit blueprint for the future relationship.

"There will be a deal if there is an agreement on the backstop", said Mr Barnier.

"I am not negotiating, of course, on the basis of the white paper".

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"I want to see the assembly and the executive back, taking decisions on behalf of all of the people of Northern Ireland".

She took on the argument of prominent Eurosceptics including Jacob Rees-Mogg, who say the United Kingdom should simply declare it will impose no checks on its side of the Irish border and leave it to Brussels to decide whether to require the Republic to erect barriers on the other.

"Not to seek a solution would be to resume our career as an independent sovereign trading nation by betraying commitments to a part of our nation and to our nearest neighbour".

All in all, the European Union negotiator's statement lends weight to David Davis's warning that the Chequers "negotiating approach will... just lead to further demands for concessions" - and the Prime Minister facing great difficulty as she attempts to sell it over the course of the parliamentary summer recess.

"No technology solution to address these issues has been designed yet or implemented anywhere in the world, let alone in such a unique and highly sensitive context as the Northern Ireland border", she said.

The Prime Minister attempted to deny these criticisms at a press conference in Northern Ireland on Friday, but just hours later Barnier - perhaps unintentionally - completely undermined her, telling reporters that one the "very positive" aspects of Chequers is that guarantees "the role to be played the ECJ as sole arbiter".

"As I told the ministers, there are several elements in this white paper that open the way to a constructive discussion regarding the political declaration on our future relationship", Barnier told a news conference in Brussels following a meeting of European Union ministers.

This would be based on the Commission's proposal but "not necessarily" stick precisely to the outline released in March, he said.

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