BREXIT BOMBSHELL: EU won’t offer UK Irish backstop compromise because they don’t TRUST May
EUROPEAN Union negotiators will refuse to climbdown on the contentious Irish backstop because they “don’t trust” Theresa May to keep her promise of a frictionless border on Ireland.
Brexit news: Lack of trust in Theresa May means EU will keep Irish backstop demands
Brexit talks have made little to no progress since the Prime Minister agreed to Brussels demand for the backstop insurance policy to be included in the withdrawal agreement.
Under the current EU offer, Northern Ireland would be locked in the EU’s customs union and its single market for goods.
This has caused uproar amongst Brexiteers and the Democratic Unionist Party, whose 10 Northern Irish MPs prop up the Prime Minister’s minority Government with a supply and confidence agreement.
Critics have accused the EU of attempting to “annex” Northern Ireland from the rest of Great Britain, which prompted Mrs May to declare the backstop acceptable to “no prime minister”.
Barnier on Ireland: With no backstop there will be no agreement
But it will not be Brussels who are budging or offering a compromise on the backstop despite efforts to “de-dramatise” the issue by EU negotiator Michel Barnier, according to a report by Andrew Duff, a former MEP and fellow at the European Policy Centre.
In his ‘Brexit: Time to compromise’ paper, Mr Duff cites an EU official close to the negotiations who raises concerns over whether Brussels can trust Mrs May’s Government without a legally operable backstop in the withdrawal agreement.
The EU official said: “Put simply, it’s a question of trust.
“Nobody trusts the May Government to deliver.”
The lack of trust is shown by the EU’s lack of willingness to engage on alternative backstop solutions tabled by the Prime Minister.
Mrs May’s controversial Chequers White Paper was designed to avoid the insurance policy ever being triggered, but only prompted rejections from Brussels.
EU negotiators made clear they didn’t like a number of economic proposals aimed at ensuring a frictionless trade border – the Prime Minister’s so-called ‘Facilitated Customs Arrangement’.
UK plans to collect tariffs on goods destined for the Continent on behalf of Brussels but maintain a separate tariff rate for the UK were met with suggestions they present an open door for fraudsters to the EU’s internal markets.
But the Prime Minister’s biggest concession yet was also met with an element of distrust.
At the October European Council summit, Mrs May suggested she would be willing to infuriate Brexiteers and hand over billions of more pounds to Brussels by extending the 21-month transition period.
EU officials, however, insisted this solution could not act as a replacement for the backstop and would have to work in tandem with it.
Despite no clear solution in sight, Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab is confident a deal can be concluded in November.
Writing to Hilary Benn, chairman of the Common’s Brexit Committee, Mr Raab said: “I would be happy to give evidence to the Committee when a deal is finalised, and currently expect November 21 to be suitable.”
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