After brinkmanship, agreement on the transition period, but another fudge on the border. The ” backstop” for Northern Ireland remains

Breaking…..

I had just filed a piece below headlined “brinkmanship on the border “ when the Irish Times reported that that the British had agreed to accept  a legal  draft text containing  the “ backstop” option 3 on keeping Northern Ireland in alignment with the EU after Brexit as part of transition terms for exiting the Union. RTE also has the story

There is a huge provisio. Both sides want a comprehensive final deal that negates any need for special status for NI and  “nothing is agreed until everything is agreed.” In other words, another fudge. All the same and despite David Davis’s ‘s assurances (see Guardian quotes below) unionist jitters  are unlikely to disappear..

EU and UK negotiators have agreed to include new text in the draft withdrawal agreement that ties the parties to the “backstop” agreement reached in December. That agreement between the EU and the UK stated that, in the absence of another solution for the Border, Northern Ireland would effectively remain within the EU customs union.

In a significant development in Brexit negotiations, a new introductory section will be included in the draft withdrawal agreement to give legal effect to the “backstop” meaning it will apply “unless and until another solution is found.”

This keeps the door open on the backstop option while still enabling EU and UK negotiators to devise another solution for the Border, such as a future EU-UK trading agreement, or a specific solution to be proposed by London

Mr Barnier said that the two sides had agreed that the backstop solution must form part of the legal text of the withdrawal. “The backstop will apply unless and apply until another solution is found,” he said.

The negotiator said that the EU was ready “to look at all options” that would allow the EU and UK to meet our objectives in a constructive way.

In an effort to progress what have been difficult negotiations, the draft withdrawal agreement will be colour-coded: the colour green will apply to areas where agreement has been reached on negotiator level; yellow where objectives are agreed by negotiators but that are still being worked on; and white where an issue is proposed by the EU and still under negotiation.

The “protocol” covering the Irish Border issues within the withdrawal agreement is a mix of all three colours, reflecting the areas that are still under negotiation around the Irish question.

 

In a further safeguarding around Irish concerns on the Border, agreement was also reached today that the draft guidelines for the upcoming negotiations between the EU and the UK on the future trade agreement will state that “nothing is agreed until everything is agreed.”

These guidelines will be put to EU leaders, including Taoiseach Leo Varadkar when they meet at the European Council on Thursday and Friday

From the Guardian live report of the joint presser by Barnier and Davis

Michel Barnier EU Commission chief negotiator

On Ireland, he says a note has been published today showing how this issue will be dealt with.

It says both sides are committed to the joint report published in December, “in all its aspects”.

It has been agreed that the backstop solution (regulatory alignment) must form part of the withdrawal agreement.

The backstop will apply unless and until another solution is found, he says.

Barnier confirms the regulatory alignment solution for Ireland will be part of withdrawal agreement as a backstop option

 

David Davis Brexit Secretary

Davis says both the UK and the EU are committed to December’s joint report “in its entirety”. ( that means the guarantee of no economic border between GB And NI in December  which is omitted from the EU’ legal text last month)

 However the Guardian reporter  rightly says:  “That means the legal text must include reference to the backstop solution.

But Davis says the UK wants to ensure that an alternative solution to the border issue is found.

Q: Do you accept the transition will end on 31 December 2020?

Davis says December 2020 is the end date.

Davis confirms Brexit transition will end on 31 December 2020

Q: Hasn’t the UK broken all its promises by saying a hard border in Ireland is a possibility?

Davis says the UK remains steadfast in its commitment to avoiding a hard border in Ireland. He refers to Simon Coveney’s tweet earlier, in which the Irish foreign minister accepted this was a priority for the UK. (See 10.37am.)

Q: [To Barnier] Unless you are willing to block the final agreement, haven’t you given way on Ireland?

Barnier says he thinks it will still be possible to find a practical solution.

But he repeats the point about how nothing is agreed until everything is agreed.

 

Davis/Barnier’s Q&A

Q: Hasn’t the UK broken all its promises by saying a hard border in Ireland is a possibility?

Davis says the UK remains steadfast in its commitment to avoiding a hard border in Ireland. He refers to Simon Coveney’s tweet earlier, in which the Irish foreign minister accepted this was a priority for the UK. (See 10.37am.)

Q: [To Barnier] Unless you are willing to block the final agreement, haven’t you given way on Ireland?

Barnier says he thinks it will still be possible to find a practical solution.

But he repeats the point about how nothing is agreed until everything is agreed.

 

 

 

 

 

Brexit: ‘The DUP’s hardline policies could be the quickest road to a united Ireland’” by “Brexit: ‘The DUP’s hardline policies could be the quickest road to a united Ireland’” is licensed under “Brexit: ‘The DUP’s hardline policies could be the quickest road to a united Ireland’

Former BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph. Hon Senior Research Fellow, The Constitution Unit, Univ Coll. London