Published: Tue, November 06, 2018
Science | By

Irish PM tells United Kingdom it can’t halt backstop plans

Irish PM tells United Kingdom it can’t halt backstop plans

He was speaking in Slovakia just hours after Prime Minister Theresa May reportedly proposed a "review mechanism" which would allow the United Kingdom to leave the backstop at some point.

The Withdrawal Agreement is 95% complete, but the final outstanding issues need to be resolved within the week if the United Kingdom government is going to achieve its aim of finalising a deal this month.

This prompted Coveney's Monday tweet, which said that such ideas "are not backstops at all" and "don't deliver on previous United Kingdom commitments".

With a Brexit deal nearing completion with Brussels, the PM is trying to secure the agreement of her cabinet to press on with finalising the terms for Brexit.

The EU's chief negotiator Michel Barnier stressed the United Kingdom would have to come up with a proposal that satisfied its 27 nations that its single market would not be undermined and that there was a guarantee of no hard border in Ireland.

It is understood Jeremy Hunt, the UK Foreign Secretary, also aired his own views on the backstop with Tánaiste and Foreign Minister Simon Coveney before Mr Lidington's intervention.

"Backstop means backstop. And a backstop can not have a time limit".

Speaking in the Irish parliament on Tuesday, Mr Varadkar repeated his red lines.

"The Taoiseach (Prime Minister) indicated an openness to consider proposals for a review, provided that it was clear that the outcome of any such review could not involve a unilateral decision to end the backstop", the statement said.

Varadkar separately told reporters that an expiry date of that nature would not be worth the paper it is written on.

"I'm open to creative solutions and creative language but we will not resile from our fundamental resolution, the backstop can not have a time limit or an exit clause", he continued.

Mr Varadkar was accused by Sinn Fein of having "lost his nerve" in Brexit negotiations by signalling his willingness to reach a compromise solution with the UK.

Meanwhile, the European Commission dismissed reports over the weekend that a Brexit deal has been privately agreed after major concessions from Brussels.

Chief EU negotiator Michel Barnier said the two negotiating teams are not yet close to an agreement. Without an operational backstop there will not be an accord and there will not be a transition period. "And a backstop can not have a time-limit".

Jeffrey Donaldson, an MP from Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), which props up May's government, said Dublin's refusal to budge could scupper a deal.

He told the Financial Times this would also have to linked to a willingness from the United Kingdom to remain close to European Union regulatory and supervisory standards.

He told the BBC: "I can't see it because I think it would be the worst of all worlds".

"What I'm getting from business leaders, trade union leaders and others is they want permanence, they want stability".

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