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Ireland rejects customs posts away from border

BORIS JOHNSON will tell Brussels to take it or leave it when he makes his first — and final — Brexit offer today.

The prime minister will promise a ‘fair and reasonable compromise’ as he reveals details in his speech to the Tory conference this afternoon.

But he will pledge no more Brexit delays — and warn that talks will stop if the EU rejects the offer.

That outcome appeared likely after a draft of his solution to the ‘backstop’ problem leaked out and Irish premier Leo Varadkar immediately dismissed the proposals. But Mr Johnson will say to Tory delegates: ‘Voters are desperate for us to focus on their other priorities.

‘What the whole world wants is to move on. That is why we are coming out of the EU on October 31.’

The Benn Act forced through by MPs in defiance of Mr Johnson is designed to make a Halloween no-deal illegal.

But Downing Street confirmed last night the PM would, in ‘no circumstances’, ask the EU for another delay. ‘We are either going to be negotiating a new deal or working on no deal,’ a spokesman said. ‘Nobody will work on delay.’

Discussions: Ireland Prime Minister Leo Varadkar

According to the leaked documents, the government has suggested establishing customs posts just a few miles back from the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic.

The hope is this would technically keep the border ‘open’ in keeping with the Good Friday peace agreement. And unlike with the contentious backstop, the UK would not have to stay in a ‘single customs territory’ with the EU if no trade deal had been reached.

But Mr Varadkar said the UK had promised ‘no hard border or associated controls or checks’, adding: ‘We expect the British government to honour that promise.’

His foreign minister Simon Coveney called the plan for up to ten ‘customs clearance centres’ either side of the border a non-starter.

And Sinn Féin said customs posts would break the terms of the Good Friday agreement. Mr Johnson insisted yesterday the ‘game-changing’ solution he will send to Brussels today was different from the draft version.

But he said the need for some border checks was ‘just the reality’. ‘We are leaving, and that will mean some change to the status quo,’ he added.

Dublin responded nervously last night to claims that EU governments have discussed offering the UK a time limit on the backstop.

‘With a time limit, it’s not a backstop at all,’ said Mr Coveney.

The European Commission dismissed the claims, saying: ‘The EU is not considering this option at all.’