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May in showdown with ministers on Ireland border

May in showdown with ministers on Ireland border

London, June 7: British Prime Minister Theresa May faces a showdown with senior ministers Thursday amid opposition to her proposal for avoiding a hard border in Northern Ireland after the U.K. leaves the European Union, reports AP. The meeting comes amid reports that Brexit Secretary David Davis is considering resignation because he fears May's plan could force Britain to follow EU trade rules indefinitely. The debate centers on "backstop" arrangements that would be implemented if Britain and the EU fail to agree on a broader trade deal. The goal is to ensure the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland remains open after Brexit to protect economic links and the peace process. May's proposal would align British trade rules with those of the EU until a permanent deal is worked out. It was not immediately clear when the government would publish a promised document setting out its negotiating position. Conservative lawmaker David Jones told the BBC that much of May's Conservative Party agrees with Davis and that she can't afford to lose him. "It would tie us effectively into the EU's customs arrangement for an indefinite period," he said. "It would be the Hotel California scenario - we'd have checked out but we wouldn't have left." May's Conservative government is divided between ministers favoring a "hard Brexit" - leaving Britain freer to strike new trade deals around the world - and those who want to keep the U.K. closely aligned to the EU, Britain's biggest trading partner. Another report adds: Britain's Supreme Court on Thursday criticized Northern Ireland's strict anti-abortion laws but dismissed a legal challenge, reports AP. A majority of the court decided that the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission, which initiated the case, did not have the standing to bring the challenge to the abortion law. The court dismissed the case without taking action. The justices went on to say, however, that a majority finds Northern Ireland's abortion prohibitions "disproportionate" and that they violate European human rights laws. That part of the ruling gave hope to abortion rights activists seeking to liberalize Northern Ireland's laws. Strict Northern Ireland laws that prohibit abortions in cases of pregnancy as a result of incest or rape, and in cases when the fetus has a likely fatal abnormality, have drawn scrutiny since the Republic of Ireland voted overwhelmingly in May to repeal its own strict laws. When Ireland replaces the constitutional ban with more liberal legislation after a debate in parliament, Northern Ireland will be the only remaining region in Britain and Ireland to outlaw the procedure. Rosa Curling, from the law firm Leigh Day that helped bring the legal challenge, called the court's ruling "a momentous day for women in Northern Ireland" and said it is now up to British Prime Minister Theresa May to take action to ease the laws. She said May has an obligation to make sure the U.K. government is "now longer acting unlawfully by breaching the human rights of women across Northern Ireland." However, the fact that the Supreme Court dismissed the case because of doubts about the Human Rights Commission's right to bring it means the judges' views on the anti-abortion laws do not have legal force. The issue is further clouded by the collapse of the Northern Ireland Assembly, a power-sharing regional government set up by the 1998 Good Friday accord.

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