The European Union says its “open but not convinced” by the UK PM’s new proposals for a Brexit deal with the EU.
The president of the European Council, Donald Tusk among several leading EU voices to express doubt over Boris Johnson’s withdrawal agreement plan.
The plan would keep Northern Ireland in the EU single market for goods but see it leave the customs union.
But what happens to the border between Northern Ireland and Ireland remains a central sticking point.
Irish PM Leo Varadkar said the new plans for the withdrawal agreement were welcome, but “fall short in a number of aspects”.
It comes as UK PM Boris Johnson’s Europe adviser, David Frost, is to hold another round of talks in Brussels in a bid to break the Brexit deadlock.
The EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, had told European diplomats he still has plenty of questions about the British proposal to replace the backstop – the measure designed to prevent a hard border on the island of Ireland after Brexit.
He has said he will be in a better position to judge possible future negotiations with the UK once he has spoken to Mr Frost.
However, Mr Johnson has repeatedly insisted he would not ask for a delay as the law requires him to, describing the legislation as a “surrender bill”.
What are the proposals?
Downing Street hopes its new plan will replace the controversial Irish backstop provision that has proved the biggest obstacle to the existing withdrawal agreement.
The backstop was meant to keep a free-flowing border on the island of Ireland but critics – including Mr Johnson – fear it could trap the UK in EU trading rules indefinitely.
Mr Johnson’s latest plan seeks to address this with the following:
Northern Ireland to remain aligned with EU’s single market rules for trade in animal, food and manufactured goods
Northern Ireland’s legislative assembly to have the right to decide every four years if it wants to continue to apply EU legislation to traded goods
Northern Ireland to leave EU’s customs union alongside rest of UK in 2021
Customs checks on goods traded between UK and EU to be “decentralized”, with electronic paperwork and “small number” of physical checks away from border itself (BBC)