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The transport secretary, Chris Grayling, is no longer welcome in Calais, according to the port's chairman, who has been angered by British plans to divert some sea traffic in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

"What Parliament has said is that they believe there should be changes made to the backstop", which the prime minister said would prevent a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

Prime Minister Theresa May was due to hold a conference call with around 55 chairmen and chief executives of European multinationals with operations in Britain.

The EU has repeatedly said it will not amend the backstop, but Polish Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz suggested the bloc could agree to some form of legal assurances on how it might be used.

"The deal we have achieved is the best deal possible, the only deal possible", EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said at the time.

Ms May acknowledged that there are concerns amongst nationalists in Northern Ireland about their rights post-Brexit - and that Northern Ireland voted to remain - but promised unequivocally that she will "not allow a return to a hard border" in Northern Ireland.

TUV leader Jim Allister said it was the content, not just the duration of the backstop, that Mrs May must remove.

Reacting to Puissesseau's comments on Tuesday, the Labour MP and supporter of the pro-EU Best for Britain campaign, Virendra Sharma, said: "Surely this is peak Chris Grayling, only this time he's gone worldwide".

Many U.K. lawmakers, particularly in Prime Minister Theresa May's Conservative Party, say it could keep Britain tied to the European Union for too long, even indefinitely.

"The British Government must deliver a deal that does not undermine the terms of the Good Friday Agreement, and the only plausible way to do that is to deliver on the backstop".

British Prime Minister Theresa May will use a speech in Northern Ireland later to insist she can get a Brexit deal agreed which honours commitments to avoid a hard border.

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The source said: 'She is waiting for London to come forward with concrete proposals about how it would work.

To do so, she is trying to reopen talks with Brussels on the deal she spent 18 months negotiating before Parliament rejected it by a record margin last month.

Pro-Brexit MPs are "setting the prime minister up to fail" says a Cabinet minister.

The row comes as the prime minister sets up a new committee of Conservative MPs created to work on "alternative arrangements" to the backstop.

However, DUP leader Arlene Foster appeared to leave room for manoeuvre on the backstop solution, branding the "current backstop" toxic.

May, whose minority administration in Westminster is propped up by 10 MPs from Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party, will pledge during her visit to the province to "find a way" to keep the border open.