Britain can not have unilateral power to end Brexit backstop, Ireland warns May

Leroy Wright
November 6, 2018

David Davis pointed out that Britain's attorney general Geoffrey Cox reportedly said that "any Northern Ireland-only arrangements for customs after Brexit could mean the Province was "torn out of the UK" and leave it "controlled by the EU".

"In order to ensure that the backstop, if ever needed, would be temporary, the prime minister said that there would need to be a mechanism through which the backstop could be brought to an end", the spokesman added.

Mr Varadkar insisted that Britain could not decide to do that on its own.

'If we can get a good deal, and that means removing all the frictions. the Chequers-type deal, as I say, if we don't have friction with trade, then, economically, I don't think it's going to make a particular big difference one way or the other'.

It comes amid reports of an imminent deal - which Downing Street has described as "speculation".

The phone call followed a report by Britain's Daily Telegraph newspaper that May's Brexit Minister Dominic Raab had privately demanded the right to pull Britain out of the backstop after three months.

"He recalled the prior commitments made that the backstop must apply "unless and until" alternative arrangements are agreed".

The former Brexit secretary yesterday called on the government to publish the legal advice it has on the Irish border backstop.

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"This has been committed to by the United Kingdom in order to have a withdrawal agreement".

But Mrs May flatly rejected the idea, saying she would not agree to anything that risked splitting the UK.

Britain wants instead to keep the whole an EU customs union, but only temporarily.

In a major intervention on the controversial backstop, amid reports that the government plans to keep Northern Ireland in aspects of the European Union trade structures, Mr Davis said it was "pretty clear there is genuine and significant concern regarding the implications of any fresh backstop text".

But this has been rejected by London, as it would see customs checks take place between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.

"We are being asked to choose between the break-up of the Union - at least for economic purposes - or the subjugation of the whole country", said the former foreign secretary.

"If the long term is that we are simply going to be continuing this argument long after we've left the European Union on March 29 next year as to what our future relationship with it is going to be, then, quite frankly, it would be better to have that argument now and let the public decide what they want and if they are content with the arrangements the government has come up with".

But, highlighting the political complexities of Brexit, a large Survation poll for Channel 4 found Britons would vote to stay in the European Union if there were another ballot, backing "Remain" by 54 per cent to 46 per cent.

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