Several top ministers anxious United Kingdom could stay in EU customs union indefinitely

Arlene Foster DUP leader

Arlene Foster DUP leader

Cabinet ministers briefed on the Brexit talks said the issue of the Irish backstop was close to being settled, the FT said.

Theresa May will on Thursday ask her Brexit "war Cabinet" to agree a backstop plan that would keep Britain in a customs union with Brussels until a permanent trade deal can be agreed.

He said no deal would "quite simply be a disaster for business in Northern Ireland", where consumers already have half the disposable income of households in Britain.

"I still believe it is possible that Brexit is stopped, I think there is no majority in parliament for any proposition that the prime minister brings back", Blair said, adding that he wanted a second referendum. High stakes at high noon for these Brexit negotiations.

One key obstacle remaining is the Irish border issue - on how to keep the new EU-UK land border with Northern Ireland open as it becomes the EU's new external border on the island of Ireland.

He said the only "visible systematic" customs checks between Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom would mean scanning the barcodes on lorries or containers, which could be done on ferries or in transit ports, and filling out online customs declarations.

But this could see checks on goods travelling from mainland Britain to Northern Ireland - what Foster described as "an effective one-way turnstile".

Talks on the divorce deal are stuck on how to keep the border open between Northern Ireland, which is part of Britain, and European Union member Ireland to the south. The sides will continue negotiations through the weekend with hopes for a breakthrough as early as Monday.

The 27 states remaining in the bloc hope to announce "decisive progress" in divorce talks at an European Union summit next week and then finalise their offer of close future ties with Britain next month.

"She will not have DUP support regardless of whether the government tries to bribe, bully or browbeat us into accepting it", Wilson also said.

If the DUP votes against the budget, which will be presented on October 29, this could trigger a confidence motion and a general election if the government loses.

But he said that checks on animals and animal food products passing between Northern Ireland and Great Britain would have to increase tenfold.

However Brexiteers - including Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab - are insisting any arrangement which would see the United Kingdom effectively remain part of the customs union while negotiations over a free trade deal take place must be strictly time-limited - something the EU has been resisting. Dimitris Avramopoulos, the European Union commissioner for migration and home affairs, said Barnier had briefed the body on the state of play in the negotiations.

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