A radical plan to keep the whole of the UK in a customs union with the EU after Brexit has been welcomed by Dublin, it has been reported.
The proposal, seen as a way of stopping a hard border being created on the island of Ireland, would be the 'backstop' arrangement if no other deal could be struck between the UK and EU.
The measure would stop a regulatory and customs border being created in the Irish Sea – something strongly opposed by the DUP, who are propping up Theresa May's government.
But such an arrangement, even on a temporary basis, would infuriate many Brexiteers opposed to May's Brexit plan as it would see the UK continuing to follow EU rules on goods and agri-foods.
According to the Financial Times, officials in Dublin are supportive of the plan, believed to be under consideration by Downing Street.
“It looks like it would resolve that issue [of the border],” a senior Irish official involved in Brexit talks told the paper, adding: “Whether Europe accept it or not is another conversation.”
Summing up the opposition many Brexit MPs will have to the plan, the official said: “If [the UK is] accepting a customs union, what are they leaving?
"That’s the big question. If effectively they accept the customs union, they’re not leaving anything really.”
The Brexit negotiations are entering the final stages, with a crucial summit of EU leaders scheduled for October 19-20.
If progress is made at that meeting, another get-together will be held in November to sign of the withdrawal agreement – which needs to include the backstop solution to the Irish border issue.
Speaking in Brussels on Thursday, European Council president Donald Tusk reiterated his offer of a Canada-style trade deal with the UK.
However, this arrangement is based on the UK agreeing that Northern Ireland should stay in the EU's Single Market and customs union if no other way to keep the border invisible can be found.