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No alternative: Leaked docs reveal Johnson has no viable substitute for Irish border backstop

No alternative: Leaked docs reveal Johnson has no viable substitute for Irish border backstop
The UK leaving the EU without an exit deal looks increasingly likely as leaked documents reveal that the British government has so far failed to come up with any viable alternative to the Irish border backstop.

The document, prepared for the EU Exit Negotiations Board and dated 28 August, reportedly shows that the findings of all Brexit advisory groups assisting the British government are being kept secret so as not to interfere with Brexit negotiations with the European Union, particularly those that pertain to the backstop issue. 

The backstop would ensure the UK would still follow EU regulations governing consumer products, food, animals, and vehicles within the single market guidelines and customs union eliminating the need for a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. 

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson has flat-out refused to accept a backstop arrangement, a hangover from his predecessor Theresa May and her failed Withdrawal Agreement, while claiming there is a plethora of alternative solutions. 

However, according to these leaked documents, none of these aforementioned “abundant solutions” are actually viable and that a hard border could be on the cards.

“It is evident that every facilitation has concerns and issues related to them. The complexity of combining them into something more systemic and as part of one package is a key missing factor at present,” the documents read.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is already a third of the way through the 30-day target set by German Chancellor Angela Merkel for Johnson to formulate an alternative border proposal. The UK is expected to leave the EU on October 31, with Johnson vowing to do so, “deal or no deal.”

The proposed technological workarounds to the backstop are fraught with problems, according to the report. 

An artificial intelligence-powered option would not effectively detect disease and chemical contamination of food while onboard vehicle technology to track the location, weight and temperature of food would be susceptible to tampering or gaming. 

In addition, checks on physical goods could create weeks-long backlogs and ‘quarantine’ periods.

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The report also undermines the current forerunner to replace the backstop, the “trusted trader” scheme, as it would require substantial infrastructure to work which may prove undeliverable. 

The UK’s Department for Exiting the European Union has thus far declined to comment on the leaked documents. 

Johnson vowed to step up the tempo in Brexit negotiations with the EU while he faces legal challenges to his move to suspend Parliament between mid-September and October 14.

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