Prime Minister Theresa May revealed plans Thursday for Britain to temporarily align with European Union customs rules after Brexit as a fall-back option to resolve the Irish border problem, but only to 2021 in what was viewed as a compromise with eurosceptic ministers.
The UK will propose the customs arrangement - widely known as a "backstop" plan - to ensure people and goods can still move between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland after Brexit occurs in March next year.
The U.K. on Wednesday released a Brexit customs "backstop" plan, despite a major disagreement between Brexit Secretary David Davis and Prime Minister Theresa May.
But speaking to reporters on her flight to the G7 summit in Canada, she twice refused to give a "cast-iron guarantee" that the end date would not slip.
Theresa May has avoided a potentially devastating cabinet resignation after striking a last-minute deal with David Davis over plans to prevent a hard border in Ireland after Brexit.
The EU's Chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said that he would "examine" the idea.
"The UK is clear that the temporary customs arrangement, should it be needed, should be time limited", said the document.
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While a compromise appears to have been reached, the position paper - which is still to be agreed by Brussels - says the United Kingdom only "expects" the new customs arrangements to be in place by December 2021, suggesting the backstop could be extended.
"The backstop paper has been amended and now expresses, in much more detail, the time limited nature of our proposal - something the PM and DD have always been committed to".
"Is it a workable solution to avoid a hard border? However, it remains vital that a legally-binding backstop is agreed to provide certainty that, in all circumstances, a hard border will be avoided", he said.
The debate will test May's ability to broker a compromise with those in her Conservative Party who, like many members of the upper house, want to keep a relatively close relationship with the European Union after Brexit.
"After weeks of the government negotiating with itself, the fudged document they have produced doesn't engage with any of the key Brexit dilemmas", said opposition Labour MP Chris Leslie.
According to the prime minister's deputy spokeswoman, May held "constructive" discussions with Davis, as well as separate meetings with International Trade Secretary Liam Fox and Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson - both prominent Brexiteers.
But Mrs May has given a "cast-iron guarantee" the United Kingdom will not be locked in the EU's customs union beyond 2021.