Lines are now drawn.

Here is the full text of the European Parliament withdrawal agreement and already it is clear that it will produce a defining point in these negotiations opening as it does the prospect of Northern Ireland remaining within the customs union and single market if other options are not found.

Theresa May has told the Commons “no UK Prime Minister could ever agree to it” while adding as an option this would threaten the constitutional integrity of the UK.  Meanwhile at a press conference in Brussels Michel Barnier said the draft text faithfully reflected the the commitments made by the EU and UK in December.

So that’s the EU’s view of the negotiations and the Northern Ireland option is the backstop position in the absence of other solutions from the UK which of course must sync with its ambition to leave the customs union and single market.  Will it lead to solutions or more internal political wrangling in England.

Michel Barnier reminds the clock is still ticking.