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2 Oct, 2019 16:46

Bye bye Irish backstop: BoJo’s final offer to the EU

Bye bye Irish backstop: BoJo’s final offer to the EU

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has sent Brussels his ‘take it or leave it’ Brexit offer that would see the Irish backstop replaced with electronic and a “number of physical” customs checks on the island of Ireland.

Publishing his letter to the President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker on Wednesday via social media, Johnson’s “final offer” Brexit proposals contain alternatives to the contentious Irish backstop issue, which he describes as a "bridge to nowhere." 

If ratified, it would mean that Northern Ireland would remain in the same 'regulatory zone' as the Republic of Ireland for goods traded across the north-south border.  

However, it would also stay in the same customs territory as mainland UK - not the Republic of Ireland, which is an EU member state. Therefore, checks would be necessary on some trade, both between Northern Ireland and the Republic, and between Northern Ireland and mainland UK.

On the crucial issue of physical infrastructure to conduct customs checks, which Brussels has ruled unacceptable in any deal agreed, the UK government concede their proposals would require a small number at traders’ premises. 

“...UK and EU customs regimes taking place electronically, and with the small number of physical checks needed conducted at traders’ premises or other points on the supply chain.”

The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), the Tory administration's key Northern Irish allies in government, have given their approval to Johnson’s plans for a renegotiated Brexit deal. They insist that the proposals are “entirely consistent with the spirit” of the Good Friday Agreement, the 1998 Northern Irish peace deal, and safeguard the UK’s internal market. 

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn responded to Johnson’s Brexit plans on Sky News, branding them “worse than Theresa May’s deal,” claiming it would see the UK diverging further from EU regulation. 

The proposals state that consent to the arrangements in Northern Ireland should be sought every four years from their Assembly and Executive, before the end of the transition period, scheduled for December 31, 2020.

Northern Ireland has been without a government in the power-sharing assembly in Stormont since January 2017, due to internal wranglings between Sinn Fein and the DUP.

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