UK: Irish border deal to end by 2022
The UK government “expects” a Brexit backstop solution to the Northern Irish border issue to end before 2022, after Prime Minister Theresa May tried to reassure her anti-EU ministers.
May appeared to have avoided the latest crisis and cabinet resignations after a “constructive” discussion with Brexit “bulldog” David Davis today (Thursday).
It followed speculation her Brexit minister was ready to resign from the cabinet over the border proposal.
Brexiteers fear plans to align with the single market, until another way of preventing a hard Irish border was found, would amount to EU rules being followed indefinitely.
The government published a proposal to avoid a hard border with an ambition for it to end before the next general election.
But European Parliament representative Guy Verhofstadt, who has taken the role as a vocal critic during Brexit negotiations, immediately said the plan did not look workable.
The MEP said it was “difficult to see how UK proposal on customs aspects of the Ireland/Northern Ireland backstop will deliver a workable solution to avoid a hard border and respect integrity of the single market and customs union”. “A backstop that is temporary is not a backstop, unless the definitive arrangement is the same as the backstop,” he added.
The proposal would see the UK retain membership of the customs union in the event of no Brexit deal. Brexit enthusiasts had become concerned about whether it would be “time-limited”.
The government document said: “The UK is clear that the temporary customs arrangement, should it be needed, should be time-limited, and that it will be only in place until the future customs arrangement can be introduced.
“The UK is clear that the future customs arrangement needs to deliver on the commitments made in relation to Northern Ireland.
“The UK expects the future arrangement to be in place by the end of December 2021 at the latest.
The white paper has limited detail and only says there is “a range of options for how a time limit could be delivered, which the UK will propose and discuss with the EU”.
Another large anti-Brexit march is scheduled for June 23 in London, to mark two years since the divisive referendum. Picture credit: Eurasia Times