Published On: Tue, Oct 8th, 2019

‘You can’t have it both ways!’ EU left baffled by Irish border plans in Brexit talks | UK | News

The Prime Minister’s plan to create a joint commitment that no checks would ever be imposed at the Irish border, even if the new backstop is vetoed, came under intense scrutiny during hours of negotiations. Michel Barnier’s Article 50 task force were shocked to discover from their UK counterparts that the proposal was in fact a serious suggestion. The UK were hopeful the protection that no controls, checks and border infrastructure on the Irish border could be agreed.

But the European Commission widely rejected the proposal because the bloc’s single market left open for abuse if the Northern Ireland Assembly vetoes the backstop from being implemented.

“The UK expects an obligation to keep the border free of infrastructure if Northern Ireland votes the mechanism down, and then goes in a different regulatory and customs direction,” one EU diplomat said.

“Some say that presents a smuggling and health risk to 500-plus million remaining EU citizens if faulty, non-compliant goods are allowed to enter the single market.

“You can’t have it both ways. It seems that the Government, having won the referendum, is still obsessing over Dublin than understanding that for EU capitals this ask goes to the core of protecting their interests.”

Others that suggested the “Article 1 (A)” request by the British is a “trap” by hoping the EU would impose border checks in absence of the backstop.

They believe the Prime Minister was hoping the bloc would implement border controls, therefore being blamed for the disruption on the island of Ireland.

An EU source said: “It need not be this difficult. As it stands, the UK proposal is not something EU leaders will give into.

“They imperil their own voters. Just as much as the UK Government frets over the Brexit voters, our leaders fret about the interest of their own voters.

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This access, which the EU objects to, would be maintained ever if the DUP vetoed any the backstop.

The leaked details sparked fury amongst UK sources, who accused Brussels of attempting to rubbish British proposals instead of negotiate them.

“Rather than writing documents in order to leak them, the EU’s time would be better spent on engaging with our sensible and fair proposals, so the UK can leave with a deal when we exit the EU on October 31,” a source said.

David Frost, the Prime Minister’s top Europe adviser, will today continue talks with the Commission in the hope of striking a deal before the end of the week.

UK officials led by Mr Frost spent several hours in Brussels yesterday and handed over more detailed legal texts.

Government officials said the document “provided further technical detail on customs and goods regulations” but did not offer any further concessions to Brussels.

Brussels has insisted that if a deal is possible in time for EU leaders to debate at a crunch summit next week, an agreement must be reached by Friday.

The EU yesterday rejected suggestions it will make a counter offer to the UK in the coming days, with diplomats claiming Britain appeared to be “laying the groundwork for an extension”.

One source said: “Missing an opportunity, however small, is the last thing we want to do.

“But expecting a counter offer on a document that brings up so many fundamental questions? There is still a gap between the proposal and the landing zone the UK is seeking.”


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