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European Union negotiator Barnier pours cold water on May's customs plan

A person rioting in protest

Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union Dominic Raab, made the statement as part of testimony to a Brexit committee in Parliament on Tuesday, July 24, although he emphasized Britain would not be stockpiling food.

"Theresa May will have been watching the press conference through her fingers".

Mr Raab and Mr Barnier have agreed to meet again in mid-August before holding weekly discussions until October, which has been set as a deadline for concluding a Brexit deal.

Meanwhile, the Government published details of the legislation it plans to use to implement the withdrawal agreement taking the United Kingdom out of the European Union next March.

Last week-end the European Union appeared to harden its position - following PM Theresa May's visit to Northern Ireland which appears to have been exclusively to placate the DUP during which she said the European Union had to "evolve" - and said Article 50 could be extended only in the event of an election or second referendum.

"The EU can not and the EU will not delegate the application of its customs policy and and rules and Value-Added Tax and excises duty collection to a non-member who would not be subject to the EU's governance structures".

Some countries, particularly the UK's closest trading partners, want questions about the future economic relationship left open, to be worked out during the 21-month transition period after Britain has left.

Former Brexit Secretary David Davis, who resigned in protest earlier this month after May announced her Brexit negotiating strategy, was reported by newspapers to be frustrated at the increasing influence of May's office, and Robbins in particular, on the negotiations.

But he said the plan was a "road map" to the "sunlit uplands" of a final deal which respects the referendum result.

At the heart of the conundrum lies an European Union insistence that the way to avoid a "hard border" is for Northern Ireland to follow European Union rules as in Ireland and, if need be, different from those on the British mainland, while May rejects new barriers to goods moving from the mainland to the troubled province.

The customs arrangement was central to the Prime Minister's Chequers plan for future relations with the European Union, set out in a white paper a fortnight ago.

The UK has said it can not accept a backstop that effectively keeps Northern Ireland alone in the EU customs union, erecting a trade frontier in the Irish Sea.

"It must seek to learn from voices in Northern Ireland". One that sees us outside of the political institutions in Brussels that so many of us campaigned to leave.

The two men further clashed on whether the Brexit divorce treaty would be reopened over the divorce bill, the UK's debts accrued over 45 years of membership that British officials estimate to be £39bn.

"We're going to be increasing the preparations for no deal, but we're focused above all on the negotiations to get the best deal", said Raab following his meeting with Barnier in Brussels, noting that 80 percent of the withdrawal agreement has already been agreed.

We are striving for the best deal.