EU's Barnier says still 25% of work to do on Brexit

Brexit Border Guards

Britain's upper house of parliament inflicted an embarrassing defeat on Theresa May's government on Wednesday, challenging her refusal to remain in a customs union with the EU after Brexit.

"There are always difficulties, and risks of a failure", Mr Barnier told French TV.

The government's approach to the Irish border issue is "misguided and fails to recognise numerous central concerns about food", the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) has said.

The EU has said Britain should be ready to leave Northern Ireland under EU economic regulations if it wants a treaty to ensure an orderly withdrawal next March.

"We want to use the positive momentum in these negotiations to finally settle outstanding issues such as the solution to avoid a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland", Tusk told Members of European Parliament (MEPs) gathered for a plenary session.

But government sources did express exasperation at what they regard as the intransigence of the EU27.

The vote on the customs union is crucial because it marks what many see as the dividing line between a hard and soft Brexit.

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The meeting threw serious doubt upon the deal United Kingdom and European Union negotiators are trying to strike on the terms of Britain's departure from the EU.

The rights of three million Europeans living in Britain has been a key issue in the Brexit negotiations, but the situation facing around one million British expats in the other 27 countries is more uncertain, the Migration Policy Institute Europe think-tank said in a report Thursday.

The UK Government will be forced to go back to the drawing board despite undertaking five rounds of technical negotiations with the European Union so far.

Pro soft-Brexit Conservative MPs believe the government may be deliberately presenting proposals it knows will be knocked back by Brussels, to help the prime minister break the deadlock in Cabinet about how to proceed. Similarly, her personal role in the Windrush scandal is undeniable - as home secretary, she relished her image as an authoritarian who was tough on immigration, so she must now shoulder some of the blame for regarding real people as just statistics to be whittled down to please the readers of the Daily Mail.

But the customs union vote was also only the beginning of what will likely be a war of attrition on all aspects of Brexit between the Lords, where May does not have an overall majority, and the Commons, where the government's majority only exists because of the smaller DUP party of Northern Ireland.

EU diplomats said it was created to resolve the Irish border issue by avoiding customs checks between Britain and the EU, while keeping Britain out of the EU's customs union - something May has also rejected despite pressure from some in her own party. "I think Theresa totally gets that".

"We also suggested that, in determining who qualifies as eligible for the posts, and in deciding what documents will be required as proof of that, the Border Force should give consideration to the Good Friday Agreement, which recognises the right of all the people of Northern Ireland to identify themselves and be accepted as Irish or British, or both".

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