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Northern Ireland to remain in single market under Boris plan

Just like that: Boris Johnson promised he will get Brexit done

Northern Ireland will remain in the single market but leave the customs union, which governs tariffs, under Boris Johnson’s ‘compromise’ deal put to the EU today.

The Northern Ireland Assembly, currently suspended, would have to approve the arrangements first and be able to vote every four years on whether to keep them.

The European Commission said it will examine the proposals, and the DUP saw some benefits, but the government in Dublin was sceptical.

 Mr Johnson’s proposals are for “all-island regulatory zone”, as indicated at the weekend, and would mean Northern Ireland following EU rules for goods.

There would be additional checks on goods moving between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, but no further checks on goods entering Northern Ireland from Ireland.

However, Northern Ireland would leave the EU customs union with the rest of the UK, so there would have to be new customs checks between North and South.

Investors reacted nervously and the FTSE 100 suffered its biggest one day fall since January 2016, down more than 230 points.

The Scottish Government is likely to object to one part of the UK remaining in the single market.

Details of the proposed deal emerged in a letter from the Prime Minister to Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the EU.

Mr Johnson, addressing the Tory conference, said the country wanted the government to get on and deliver Brexit.

“After three and a half years people are beginning to feel that they are being taken for fools,” he said. “They are beginning to suspect that there are forces in this country that simply don’t want Brexit delivered at all.

“If they turn out to be right in that suspicion then I believe there will be grave consequences for trust in our democracy. That is why we are coming out of the EU on October 31st come what may.”

We are tabling what I believe are constructive and reasonable proposals

– Boris Johnson

Mr Johnson, who was later speaking to EU president Jean-Claude Juncker, turned to the practical solutions he is seeking on the Irish border question, admitting that there would be no checks on the Irish border but there would be regulatory checks in Northern Ireland.

“Today in Brussels we are tabling what I believe are constructive and reasonable proposals which provide a compromise for both sides.

“We will, under no circumstances, have checks at or near the border in Northern Ireland.

“We want to protect the existing regulatory arrangements for farmers and businesses on both sides of the border and, at the same time, we will allow the UK, whole and entire, to withdraw from the EU with control over our own trade policy from the start.

“Yes, this is a compromise by the UK and I very much hope our friends compromise in their turn,” he said.

Tory chairman James Cleverly said the UK had been “flexible and pragmatic”, and now the EU must be the same.

Business communities all across the UK want the Prime Minister to get a Brexit deal – not just get Brexit done.

– Chambers of Commerce DG Adam Marshall

The EU said it will examine the proposals but noted that similar proposals have been rejected.

The FTSE 100 index of leading shares closed down by 3.23% or 237.8 points at 7122.5, while the FTSE 250, regarded as a more accurate reflection of British business, was 2% lower.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed down 1.9%, and in Europe, Germany’s main index, the Dax, closed 2.8% lower, and France’s Cac 40 lost more than 3%.

The falls followed weak data from the US and figures showing UK building activity has fallen sharply. The IHS Markit/CIPS survey said September building activity “fell at the second-fastest rate since April 2009, only narrowly outpaced by June’s decline.”

Joe Hayes, economist at IHS Markit, said: “Activity is being pulled down at its second-fastest clip for over a decade as firms are buffeted by client hesitancy, heightened Brexit uncertainty and a weak outlook for the UK economy”.

Adam Marshall, director general of the British Chambers of Commerce, said: “Business communities all across the UK want the Prime Minister to get a Brexit deal – not just get Brexit done.

“The Prime Minister repeated his wish to reach an agreement with the EU, but over the next two weeks businesses need to see these intentions turn into concrete reality. In the real world, companies are still facing a nail-biting period ahead and the unwanted prospect of a messy and disorderly exit on the 31 October.

“The reality is that neither the UK government nor many businesses are fully ready for a no-deal exit. No one should downplay the disruption and economic dislocation that would be caused by a messy departure. 

“The Prime Minister must make the next two weeks count – and get a deal that safeguards people’s livelihoods, the prosperity of our communities and the fortunes of many businesses across the UK.”

Federation of Small Businesses national chairman Mike Cherry said: “This is crunch time in the Brexit process and it is vital that the Prime Minister finds not just words but a viable way forward to secure a deal and a period of transition.

“The UK’s small businesses are crying out for an end to the Brexit paralysis, which is stifling growth and strangling progress on important domestic priorities.

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