Ireland Steers Clear of British Overtures for Bilateral Deal Voiding Backstop in Brexit Agreement
Irish government sources have made it clear a bilateral deal with London on the backstop is “not something we would entertain.”
The government of Ireland has reiterated its backing for the existing Brexit deal between the EU and the UK, thus rejecting alleged attempts by the Cabinet of Theresa May for a bilateral agreement that would do away with the contentious backstop arrangement.
The position of the Irish Cabinet was expressed on Sunday by Deputy Prime Minister Simon Coveney, even though a few days ago the standing EU – UK Brexit deal was overwhelmingly rejected by the British Parliament, and led to a no confidence vote for May that she survived.
“For the record, Taoiseach and I have always been on the same page on Brexit, and we remain united & focused on protecting Ireland,” Coveney wrote on Twitter.
“That includes continued support for the EU/UK agreed [Withdrawal Agreement] in full, including the Backstop as negotiated,” he added.
Earlier, The Sunday Times reported aides to the British Prime Minister through a bilateral arrangement between London and Dublin could do away with the backstop provision in the Brexit agreement.
This in turn would pave the way for the approval of the Brexit deal by the British Parliament as the backstop is a major source of discontent for many MPs.
The EU, however, has categorically insisted on the backstop as a means of guaranteeing that a hard border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland would be avoided once the UK exist the Union on March 29, 2019.
An update to The Sunday Times report later cited senior sources from the Irish government as saying that May’s proposal for a bilateral arrangement to strike out the backstop was “not something we would entertain.”
Also on Sunday, May held a conference call with her government ministers presenting a plan for position on the Brexit deal backstop that would be supported by both her ruling Conservative Party and its coalition partner, the Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party.
After holding talks with other political parties after the Brexit deal got rejected, she is supposed to tell the British Parliament on Monday how she plans to tackle the situation.
In the meantime, Germany’s Foreign Minister Heiko Maas has commented on the reports of the British overtures to Ireland by describing them as a “mystery” with respect to their goals.
“We have to negotiate and also agree a withdrawal agreement with Britain. It is a bit of a mystery to me what the British government wants to negotiate with Dublin or what sort of an additional agreement it should be,” Maas told public broadcaster ZDF, as cited by DW.
“It wouldn’t have any effect on what was agreed with the [European] Commission,” he added.
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