European Affairs Minister rejects United Kingdom proposal for a "temporary" Brexit backstop

Andrew Cummings
June 8, 2018

In a fresh blow to the Prime Minister, the EU's chief negotiator said the blueprint was not "feasible" and urged Britain to be more "realistic" about the talks.

David Davis, the Brexit Secretary, is in open rebellion against the Prime Minister over fears her plan could leave Britain tied to Brussels indefinitely after Brexit.

"Let me be very clear: Our backstop can not be extended to the whole United Kingdom", he said.

What is the Brexit "backstop" for and how would it work?


The Irish border issue has the potential to derail the whole divorce deal. "Why? Because it has been designed for the specific situation of Northern Ireland".

Britain agreed that in the absence of any other solution, Northern Ireland would remain in "full alignment" with the EU's single market and customs union but the deal was pulled at the 11th-hour after DUP resistance.

The latest row is over the UK's counter-proposal, which has finally been published.

May's government is divided over two alternatives regarding which customs arrangement to seek with the European Union after the end of a transitional period created to bridge Britain out of the bloc, which ends in 2020.

But the customs boss defended the figure when he appeared before MPs and said a "similar" amount would be lost if the government fails to secure an agreement with Brussels.

Theresa May has avoided a potentially devastating cabinet resignation after striking a last-minute deal with David Davis over plans to prevent a hard border in Ireland after Brexit.

But Mr Barnier said: "Our backstop can't be extended to the whole UK. Why?" Northern Ireland would form part of our customs territory. "It would be the Hotel California scenario - we'd have checked out but we wouldn't have left".

"Ireland and the (European) Commission have both stressed that substantial progress on the backstop is needed before the June European Council", he said.

"We must also remember that the backstop will only be used as a last resort".

Mr Davis threatened to quit yesterday after she initially did not put a date on her backstop plan.

But May's government has yet to set out to the EU's satisfaction how it would achieve that without erecting a land border to control goods between the British province of Northern Ireland and European Union member, the Republic of Ireland, which Britain has promised it will not do.

"We are also committed to maintaining the integrity of our own internal market".

The government decided not to change an amendment that would force it to try to negotiate a customs union with the EU that is shaping up to be the most contentious vote in parliament next week, an official with the opposition Labour Party said.

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