European Union now sees Brexit unstoppable, aims to avert `fiasco`

The Mail on Sunday said it had learnt of plans to move the royal family including Queen Elizabeth to safe locations away from London

Videographic locating the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland.

The Alternative Arrangements Working Group (AAWG), a new initiative made up of pro-remain Conservatives and members of the European Research Group (ERG), a group of lawmakers who lobby for a harder Brexit, was set to meet May for the first time on Monday to flesh out alternatives to the backstop, the insurance policy created to maintain a soft border in Ireland should future talks with the EU collapse, Efe news agency reported on Monday.

Theresa May addressed the issue on a visit to Belfast on Tuesday as she acknowledged there were concerns among nationalists in Northern Ireland that their rights would be diminished as a result of Brexit.

After suffering a historic defeat in the Commons on her Brexit deal on January 15, May was allowed by lawmakers to go to Brussels and renegotiate a controversial clause in the agreement which sets out rules for future administration of the Irish border.

May discussed putting a time limit on the so-called Irish border backstop in talks with Northern Ireland's Ulster Unionist Party, the party's leader said on Wednesday.

NI Secretary Karen Bradley, whose responsibility it is to call a border poll, said on Wednesday that it was not "in any way sustainable" to believe that most people in Northern Ireland supported a united Ireland because a majority voted for Remain in the Brexit referendum.

"The Taoiseach (prime minister) will use the opportunity once again to thank the institutions, and the other Member States, for their continuing support for Ireland", an Irish government statement said.

Plans for Britain to leave the bloc on March 29 under a withdrawal agreement signed a year ago were thrown into doubt when British lawmakers rejected the accord.

Varadkar said he was concerned that the "alternative arrangements" May was talking about were an unworkable revisit to things that had already been rejected.

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Her comments were last night welcomed by Emma DeSouza from Magherafelt, who along with her US-born husband Jake, has faced a lengthy citizenship dispute with the UK Home Office over her refusal to declare herself British.

At this critical juncture, Northern Ireland is represented only by the Democratic Unionist party, which is not representative of the people on Brexit - and so much more.

"We will receive her with pleasure", Schinas said.

"It is welcome that the prime inister is travelling to Brussels to seek changes but she must stand strong and by the commitments she made to the House of Commons".

"I think events in London and the instability in British politics in recent weeks demonstrates exactly why we need a legal guarantee and solution that's operable and that we know will work and last", he said.

It could take the form of a two-year exit mechanism, similar to Article 50 for leaving the European Union, they said.

However a separate Brexiteer source said Tories could accept the backstop if there was a clear unilateral exit mechanism, which appears a more likely compromise with the EU.

The border area was a flashpoint during decades of conflict, and the free flow of people and goods across the frontier underpins the region's peace process.

As a way to prevent a hard border, Brussels and London agreed a so-called backstop - basically a promise that unless the sides come up with a better idea, then the United Kingdom would remain bound by European Union market and customs rules so that goods would not have to be checked.

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