[Brexit and Northern Ireland]: Readout of PM call with Leo Varadkar: 5 November 2018

Author (Corporate)
Series Title
Series Details 05.11.18
Publication Date November 2018
Content Type

Reports of the continuing attempts in November 2018 by the United Kingdom, Ireland and the EU's Brexit negotiators led by Michel Barnier to come to an agreement on the contentious border issue between Ireland and Northern Ireland. At this stage the key disagreement concerned the so-called Irish backstop – the system that would come into operation if a future EU-UK trade deal did not produce a solution that would prevent a hard border.

On the 5 November 2018 the United Kingdom Prime Minister Theresa May spoke to the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to take stock of the progress being made in the negotiations, including on the Northern Ireland backstop.

Mrs May affirmed the UK’s commitment to the Belfast Good Friday Agreement and to avoiding a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland. The UK side stated that the intention was that the backstop should only be a temporary arrangement and that the best solution to the Northern Ireland border would be found by agreeing a future relationship between the UK and the EU. In order to ensure that the backstop, if ever needed, would be temporary, the Prime Minister said that there would need to be a review mechanism through which the backstop could be brought to an end.

A statement from the Taoiseach said 'The prime minister raised the possibility of a review mechanism for the backstop. The Taoiseach indicated an openness to consider proposals for a review, provided that it was clear that the outcome of any such review could not involve a unilateral decision to end the backstop. He recalled the prior commitments made that the backstop must apply ‘unless and until’ alternative arrangements are agreed'.

Irish Foreign Minster Simon Coveney tweeted 'The Irish position remains consistent and very clear⁩ that a 'time-limited backstop' or a backstop that could be ended by UK unilaterally would never be agreed to by IRE or EU. These ideas are not backstops at all + don’t deliver on previous UK commitments' regarding Brexit.

Further information

+ Sustaining the rule of law in the Irish border region will depend on institutional co-operation, July 2018
+ PM Belfast speech: 20 July 2018, July 2018
+ Mutually assured destruction? Understanding the UK and Ireland’s standoff over the Northern Irish border, May 2018
+ UK must swallow the unpalatable Irish backstop, May 2018
+ Northern Ireland pushes Brexit talks toward fresh crisis, April 2018
+ The land border between Northern Ireland and Ireland, March 2018
+ Is Brexit Destroying the Irish Peace Process? / The Return of the Border? Analysis of the Irish border provisions in the Brexit withdrawal agreement, March 2018
+ Why the Republic and Northern Ireland need shared regulatory frameworks / Ireland: The final barrier to a December Brexit deal / Prime Minister's commitments to Northern Ireland, December 2017

See also a major report from Open Europe Resetting the backstop published in November 2018. In the report the authors examined how UK-EU negotiations became deadlocked over the issue of the Irish backstop, and presented the possible options for a compromise solution.

Source Link https://www.gov.uk/government/news/readout-of-pm-call-with-leo-varadkar-5-november-2018
Related Links
BBC News, 05.11.18: Ireland warns UK over post-Brexit border issue https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-46091134
The Guardian, 05.11.18: Ireland cannot let UK decide when Brexit backstop ends, says Varadkar https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/nov/05/ireland-cant-give-uk-power-to-end-brexit-backstop-says-varadkar
The Conversation, 02.11.18: Brexit backstop: this is why it’s so hard to talk about a Northern Ireland deal https://theconversation.com/brexit-backstop-this-is-why-its-so-hard-to-talk-about-a-northern-ireland-deal-106182
ESO: In Focus: Brexit - The United Kingdom and the European Union http://www.europeansources.info/record/brexit-the-united-kingdom-and-the-european-union/
Politico, 05.11.18: May floats Brexit backstop ‘review mechanism’ in call with Varadkar https://www.politico.eu/article/uk-prime-minister-theresa-may-floats-brexit-backstop-review-deal-mechanism-in-call-with-irish-leo-varadkar/
CAPX, 08.11.18: Backstop to the future https://capx.co/backstop-to-the-future/
Irish Examiner, 09.11.18: DUP accuses Theresa May of 'total betrayal' amid reports of Irish Sea border plan https://www.irishexaminer.com/breakingnews/ireland/dup-accuses-theresa-may-of-total-betrayal-amid-reports-of-irish-sea-border-plan-884256.html
BBC News, 06.11.18: Q&A: The Irish border Brexit backstop https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-politics-44615404
The Guardian, 09.11.18: DUP accuses May of breaking Brexit pledge over 'Irish Sea border' https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/nov/09/dup-may-brexit-pledge-irish-border
Open Europe: Report, November 2018: Resetting the backstop https://openeurope.org.uk/intelligence/britain-and-the-eu/resetting-the-backstop/
Irish Examiner, 06.11.18: Taoiseach reaffirms position on review clause on Brexit border backstop https://www.irishexaminer.com/breakingnews/ireland/sinn-fein-accuse-varadkar-of-losing-his-nerve-over-brexit-883561.html

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