Tuesday, 20 November, 2018

Mooted Brexit deal is an ‘absolute stinker’, warns Boris Johnson

Senator Neale Richmond who chairs the Seanad’s Brexit Committee clashed with Tory MP Owen Paterson Senator Neale Richmond who chairs the Seanad’s Brexit Committee clashed with Tory MP Owen Paterson
| 05 November, 2018, 23:22

The Brexit figurehead was responding to reports that Prime Minister Theresa May is close to striking a deal with Brussels which would allow the creation of a whole-UK customs union, avoiding the need for the Northern Ireland border "backstop" that has been at the heart of the impasse in negotiations.

Reports of a secret Brexit deal come just as more than 70 business leaders signed a letter calling for a second referendum after warning that a bad deal could threaten the United Kingdom jobs industry.

The plan also means that May is now in a position to issue an ultimatum to Brexiteer rebels within her party, the Sunday Times said.

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". "These ideas are not backstops at all + don't deliver on previous United Kingdom commitments".

EU law expert Professor Steve Peers told this newspaper: 'I think there became an increased chance of a deal once the EU apparently agreed to a UK-wide customs union with the EU in the withdrawal agreement'.

Read the full story.

The article quotes a senior Whitehall source as saying: "The PM will be able to say there's no more backstop, we've got rid of that - success".

Boris Johnson has used an article in The Sun to warn his former cabinet colleagues to "read the small print because we are about to be trapped".


The border impasse has heightened fears that the United Kingdom might crash out of the European Union without a deal on divorce terms and future relations, leading to chaos at ports and economic turmoil. "The prime minister has been clear that we are making good progress on the future relationship, and 95 percent of the withdrawal agreement is now settled and negotiations are ongoing".

A senior EU source said the United Kingdom prime minister would need determine whether she could sell an open-ended customs union to her party, but the calculation in Brussels was that it would be acceptable to the House of Commons as a whole.

Junior minister Damien English dismissed the suggestion that Ireland was "going to be shafted", insisting it was "not true".

"I said so back then and I'm still concerned now".

Basically, it is an insurance policy to make sure the current frictionless border between Northern Ireland and the Republic remains open no matter what happens in negotiations between the United Kingdom and the EU.

The UK is looking for an agreement based on an improved version of the EU's "equivalence" system of financial market access.

A spokesman for Ireland's Tanaiste Simon Coveney said: "The UK has given written commitments last December and March that the Withdrawal Agreement will include a legal guarantee of no return to a hard border in Ireland in any circumstance. That is why we are increasingly positive on the expectation of reaching a deal", he added.

"This is the backstop", he added, saying the United Kingdom had agreed that it would apply "unless and until" a close future relationship eliminated any need for Border infrastructure and checks.

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