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Davis: NI won’t be made a special case

By Andrew Woodcock

The whole of the UK could align its regulations in certain areas with the EU following Brexit, David Davis has suggested.

Mr Davis was speaking as Prime Minister Theresa May engaged in an intensive effort to restore momentum to Brexit talks which broke up in disarray on Monday.

In a statement to the House of Commons, Mr Davis said the UK was now "close" to concluding the first phase of Brexit negotiations, dealing with the Irish border, citizens' rights and the UK's financial settlement.

He insisted the Government would not accept any deal which saw Northern Ireland treated differently from the rest of the UK as the price of keeping an open border with the Republic.

But he side-stepped a demand from prominent Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg to make it an "indelible red line" that the UK should be able to diverge from EU rules and regulations after withdrawal, telling him only: "The red line for me is delivering the best Brexit for Britain."

Mr Davis stressed that "alignment" did not mean full harmonisation with EU regulations, telling MPs: "It's sometimes having mutually recognised rules, mutually recognised inspection, all of that sort of thing as well - and that's what we are aiming at."

He added: "There are areas where we want the same outcome but by different regulatory methods. We want to maintain safety, we want to maintain food standards, we want to maintain animal welfare, we want to maintain employment rights.

"We don't have to do that by exactly the same mechanism as everybody else. That's what regulatory alignment means."

In a scathing assessment of the talks turmoil, Labour's Sir Keir Starmer urged Mrs May to "rethink her reckless red lines" and put the option back on the table of the UK remaining within the European single market and customs union.

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