Published: Thu, February 07, 2019
World Media | By Cesar Oliver

Juncker stands by Ireland and 'vital' backstop

Juncker stands by Ireland and 'vital' backstop

British Prime Minister Theresa May, who visited Northern Ireland on Tuesday, said she had a new mandate to seek an "alternative arrangement" that ensured the border stayed open after Britain's exit. The changes center on replacing a measure known as the backstop, created to keep an open border between the United Kingdom's Northern Ireland and European Union member state Ireland.

"We will find a way to deliver Brexit that honours our commitments to Northern Ireland, that commands broad support across the communities and that secures a majority in the Westminster Parliament", May said, adding that she would sit down for talks with regional political parties the following day.

After suffering a historic defeat in the Commons on her Brexit deal on January 15, May was allowed by lawmakers to go to Brussels and renegotiate a controversial clause in the agreement which sets out rules for future administration of the Irish border.

Prime Minister Theresa May gathered pro-Brexit and pro-EU Conservative lawmakers into an "alternative arrangements working group" seeking to break Britain's Brexit deadlock. "We don't see a time limit as being the answer, because time limit can be extended", Robin Swann said after the meeting, adding that it was just one of the options raised by May.

Tusk and Varadkar said European Union nations were intensifying preparations for a "no-deal" British exit - a possibly disastrous development that could inflict heavy economic and political damage in the United Kingdom and the European Union alike.

"The British Prime Minister has come here empty-handed with the same old rhetoric, with no plan, no credibility and frankly no honour", she told the press afterwards at Stormont.

Britain is scheduled to leave the European Union on March 29, but no withdrawal agreement has been approved because Britain's Parliament has voted down May's plan, in part because of concerns about the hard border issues.

Mrs May has previously insisted that "alternative arrangements" to the Irish backstop were under her consideration after her previous Withdrawal Agreement was roundly rejected by Parliament.

The border area was a flashpoint during decades of conflict, and the free flow of people and goods across the frontier underpins the region's peace process.

Yet, if the United Kingdom can not agree such a future trade deal, the backstop would be imposed as a position of last resort, unless or until other arrangements are agreed by all sides to ensure there is no hard border.

In any of the above cases, the extension of article 50 is highly probable, but the probability of a second referendum or revocation of the Brexit is reduced.

Speaking during a trip to Japan, Mrs Merkel said: "To solve this riddle, you have to be creative and you have to listen to one another".

"If the backstop is dealt with in the withdrawal agreement then, despite the fact we may have misgivings around other parts of the withdrawal agreement, we will support the prime minister because we do want Brexit to happen in an orderly and sustained fashion", she said.

However a separate Brexiteer source said Tories could accept the backstop if there was a clear unilateral exit mechanism, which appears a more likely compromise with the EU. "If British politics can not accept the specific needs of this country, of the north of Ireland, if British politics is incapable of acknowledging and upholding the Good Friday Agreement and preventing a hardening of the border, then the only last option - the backstop of last resort - is a referendum on Irish unity", McDonald said.

Like this: