Varadkar dismisses proposal for a three-month Irish backstop

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"There is no competitor worthy of replacing us", Glen said, adding there will be no regulatory "isolation" or race to the bottom in financial rules after Brexit.

The Prime Minister had reportedly persuaded European Union bosses to drop their insistence on splitting up the United Kingdom and separating Northern Ireland from the rest of Britain's Home Nations with customs checks in a so-called "customs compromise".

Mrs May proposed to keep the entire United Kingdom tied to the EU's Customs Union as a compromise, while Brussels was pressing for Northern Ireland to be subject to Single Market regulations as well.

But talks over Britain's withdrawal terms remain stuck due to a dispute over the Irish border, and the outlines of a potential deal taking shape look little like what the leave camp promised two years ago.

On Friday Mr Lidington and Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab visited Ireland and Northern Ireland respectively for talks with senior political figures as the deadline for securing a Brexit deal moved closer.

"The Tanaiste couldn't have been clearer that a time-limited backstop or a backstop that could be ended by the United Kingdom unilaterally would never be agreed to by Ireland or the EU".

The debate also featured Justice Secretary David Gauke, shadow trade secretary Barry Gardiner and the Green Party's Caroline Lucas on behalf of The People's Vote.

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More than 70 business leaders, including founder Martha Lane Fox and former J. Sainsbury Plc chief Justin King - signed a letter arguing that both the government's current plans for Brexit, and a no-deal Brexit, would be bad for companies and jobs.

The Irish Government is opposed to any suggestion the backstop would have an "exit clause" as suggested in the "Sunday Times" report.

However, if these Brexiteers are not convinced that the customs union is only a temporary measure they would nearly certainly rebel.

But according to the Sunday Times, Mrs May's officials have secured concessions from the European Union on the so-called Irish backstop that could help her get a deal through Parliament.

"I am extremely confident we will reach an imminent deal", Glen told a financial services conference in London.

A spokesperson for the PM said: "This is all speculation".

"He recalled the prior commitments made that the backstop must apply "unless and until" alternative arrangements are agreed". The backstop is created to ensure there is no return to a hard-border in Ireland and has proved to be a sticking point in negotiations. "I certainly hope we are".