"The Withdrawal Agreement is not open for renegotiation," said European Council President Donald Tusk. "Yesterday, we found out what the UK doesn't want. But we still don't know what the UK does want."

Other frustrated EU officials, including Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier, insisted the remaining 27 EU members were united and determined not to abandon the backstop they believe is key to maintaining peace on the border.


Under the terms of the withdrawal agreement, the whole of the UK will remain in a customs union in relation to trade in goods with the EU "unless and until" the bloc agrees there is no prospect of a return to a hard border, while Northern Ireland will also conform to some rules of the European single market.

UK legislators critical of the clause say it threatens the integrity of the the UK's borders and could even lead to the UK staying within the EU customs union permanently.

Critics have argued for the inclusion of a mechanism to allow either side to withdraw from the backstop or a limit to how long it can last.

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