Explainer: How the Brexit deal is shaping up

UK Primer Minister Theresa May

While willing to consider extending the UK's transition period beyond 2020, she said this was "not desirable" and would have to end "well before" May 2022.

Trudy Harrison, the MP for Copeland, was the latest to sign up to the Stand Up 4 Brexit campaign that opposes any future trade deal based on Chequers, which would sign up the United Kingdom to a common rule book for food and goods after Brexit to ensure a free flow of trade across the border in Ireland.

Prime Minister Theresa May will tell Parliament on Monday (Oct 22) that 95 per cent of Britain's divorce deal has now been settled, but will repeat her opposition to the European Union's proposal for the land border with Northern Ireland.

However, during her address Mrs May said: "We would not accept a position in which the United Kingdom, having negotiated in good faith an agreement which prevents a hard Border in Northern Ireland, nonetheless finds itself locked into an alternative, inferior arrangement against our will".

She said no British prime minister, and certainly not the Democratic Unionist party on which May's government depends in the Commons, could tolerate the prospect of Northern Ireland being in a different customs territory to the rest of the UK.

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"However, May insisted that the EU's position had shifted and that they were now" actively working" with the United Kingdom to find a compromise.

European leaders want a so-called "backstop" agreement, whereby Northern Ireland would remain aligned with EU customs arrangements, thereby avoiding the need for border infrastructure.

At a meeting of the British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly in London on Monday, ministers were warned that failing to resolve the Irish border question could lead to a return of violence.

That prompted May to propose a country-wide alternative in which the whole of the United Kingdom would remain in parts of the customs union after Brexit.

A backstop proposal could not be time limited as it would not be a backstop. There could also be mechanisms to cooperate on any backstop.

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He told BBC Radio's Good Evening Wales: "These (comments) are fairly lurid and not the sort of thing that one expects but it's an indication that there is a great deal of concern and I'm sure she will be wanting to do her best to allay that concern".

But as the two sides try to rebuild momentum following a Brussels summit last week, the readiness of EU negotiator Michel Barnier's team in that outline deal to soften their refusal to pre-empt the outcome of later talks on a future EU-UK trade pact may help in unlocking an acceptable package.

The EU will still insist a Northern Ireland backstop stays in place - effectively creating a "backstop to the backstop", according to reports. May said she would not accept a customs border in the Irish Sea.

Criticism of her Brexit strategy has intensified following a Brussels summit.

"Both the European Union and United Kingdom are in agreement that our future partnership is the answer to this and will provide the solutions in the long term", she said.

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The EU has also volunteered to extend the post-Brexit status-quo transition period by one year. The original knot is vanishing before our eyes.

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