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Jeremy Hunt pleads for Brussels flexibility to avoid no-deal Brexit

Jeremy Hunt pleads for Brussels flexibility to avoid no-deal Brexit

The EU proposed a backstop that would have kept Northern Ireland in the EU customs union, but the United Kingdom rejected that and said it would have created a border down the Irish Sea.

As Mr Raab - who has said a deal with the European Union can be reached by October - readied to return to Brussels for more Brexit talks on Thursday, he signalled that Britain could withhold its £39 billion divorce bill if it did not get a trade deal in return.

The possibility of the United Kingdom leaving the European Union without a trade deal seems to have increased in recent days, with Theresa May's so-called Chequers Agreement angering some Tory Brexiteers. Other potential stumbling blocks include the hard border between the United Kingdom and Ireland and the powers of the European Court of Justice.

"This requires, in particular, a legally operative backstop, an all-weather insurance policy to address the issue of Ireland and Northern Ireland", Barnier said.

"What we're not going to do, and I'm not going to get drawn into the selective snippets that are leaked and make hair-raising stories".

"We're obviously aiming to get the best deal we can on trade security and all other areas. We can not afford to lose time on the issue", he said.

"Tory Brexiteers are leading the charge to a Brexit that will inevitably leave us poorer and betray the interests of ordinary people", he said.

"I think there is a real understanding from every member state that we need to avoid that first of all through the withdrawal treaty, and then through the final relationship", he said.

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The chief negotiator added that the deal can be agreed in October or November to have time for the ratifications.

Reuters says "May's political vulnerability was exposed by the survey" which found voters would overwhelmingly prefer Boris Johnson, who resigned as foreign secretary in protest at the Chequers Brexit White Paper, to negotiate with Brussels and lead the Conservatives into the next election rather than the current prime minister.

It was supposed to be a fallback position that would ensure a free-flowing border regardless of the terms of the UK's exit from the EU.

Both Dublin and Brussels have said that without an agreement on the backstop, a treaty on the UK's withdrawal can not be concluded.

"Like any business, we consider a wide range of scenarios in planning discussions so that we're prepared to continue serving customers and small businesses who count on Amazon, even if those scenarios are very unlikely", the spokesman told Fortune.

The EU is painfully aware that it is questionable if May could master a majority for any withdrawal agreement in the United Kingdom parliament, and also acknowledge that the proposals in the white paper do not reflect the EU's red lines.

Elsewhere, the Home Office does not know how many customs officers it has to deal with possible increased checks after Brexit, The Independent reports.