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Senior EU leaders cast doubt on UK’s Brexit backstop plan – Politics live

Michel Barnier joined by Guy Verhofstadt in questioning plan unveiled on Thursday. Rolling coverage of the day’s political developments as they happen

At the lobby briefing with journalists this afternoon, the prime minister’s spokeswoman denied the hard-fought Northern Irish backstop plan was a “fudge”, saying: “I wouldn’t recognise that the word that you’ve chosen to put to me.”

She played down the significance of this morning’s dramatic meetings with David Davis, saying:

The prime minister has rightly held discussions with many of her cabinet ministers on this important issue. We have now got a document which is agreed government policy.

The backstop is not something that we want to come to be; we remain confident that we will have our customs arrangements in place by the implementation period – but, as a sensible government, of course we cannot ignore the possibility that there may be technical delays.

It’s important to say that we’re not going to sign up to anything which means that the EU could hold us in a temporary backstop when our customs arrangements are ready. At the point that a new customs arrangement that meets our commitment on Northern Ireland is ready, the backstop must end.

This is from Bloomberg’s Ian Wishart.

EU27 diplomat I spoke to described the UK’s customs paper as “a joke” and the inclusion of the 2021 end-date as pretty much “irrelevant” to the negotiations. Barnier and co likely to be a little more conciliatory around the negotiating table but there’s not much goodwill.

EU source: “Eu will accepts no time limit in the WA. HMG can say it expects this or that by YE21; this does not commit the EU27”

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