Thursday, 17 October, 2019

EU's Tusk says Johnson letter offered no 'realistic alternatives' to #BrexitBackstop

Bedside mannerisms | Boris Johnson meets Scarlett Gibbons five during a visit to the paediatric unit of the Royal Cornwall Hospital in Truro yesterday Irish border plan is 'anti-democratic', Johnson tells EU
Deanna Wagner | 21 August, 2019, 20:36

The riddle of what to do about Ireland's 500-km (300-mile) land border with the British province of Northern Ireland has repeatedly imperiled Brexit talks.

Mr Schumer called for the Trump administration to stop "over-promising an unconditional and unrealistic" post-Brexit trade agreement with the UK. And Parliament has thrown it out three times.

"You have set a very blistering timetable of 30 days - if I understood you correctly, I am more than happy with that", he added.

In a letter to Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, Johnson said the Irish backstop was "anti-democratic and inconsistent with the sovereignty of the U.K." because it would impose EU trade rules on Northern Ireland, creating a regulatory border between the province and the rest of the United Kingdom. And he said the backstop "risks weakening the delicate balance embodied" by the Good Friday Agreement.

Tusk said in a tweet on Tuesday that "the backstop is an insurance to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland unless and until an alternative is found".

'Those against the backstop and not proposing realistic alternatives in fact support re-establishing a border. Neither is a comfortable position for New York-born Johnson, who took office with a swagger last month promising Brexit by Oct 31 no matter what.

The group said ending freedom of movement would mean "switching on the hostile environment for anyone who can not prove the right to stay in the UK".

'That's the way we are going to approach it.

Mr Tusk's remarks "were not redolent of a sense of optimism", he said.

"But I think, actually, we'll get there".

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The plan is said to be one of the "creative solutions" Johnson plans to raise with European Union leaders this week.

Johnson said the backstop also threatens the peace process in Northern Ireland because it would give control of large parts of the economic and commercial life of the province to an external body, thus "weakening the delicate balance" between rival factions.

Border checks of some kind will be required because the remaining European Union, its $15.9 trillion economy nearly six times the size of Britain's, needs to protect its "single market", which scraps tariffs and harmonises standards among the member states.

"If I was Boris, I wouldn't be going over there at all".

The withdrawal agreement held "enormous importance for the German economy", Lang stressed.

Officials in Brussels privately accused Mr Johnson of making "incorrect" and "misleading" claims about the situation.

In a letter to the European Council late on Monday, Johnson called the Irish backstop "anti-democratic" and "inconsistent with the sovereignty of the United Kingdom as a state", called for its scrapping; in parallel, he called on the EU to commit along with the United Kingdom that no border infrastructure would be raised in Ireland.

The British Prime Minister is travelling to Berlin on Wednesday where he will discuss Brexit-related issues with the German premier Angela Merkel over dinner, before heading to Paris tomorrow to meet French president Emmanuel Macron.

Both sides must seek other ways to keep the border free of checks, he said, calling for a commitment "to put in place such arrangements as far as possible before the end of the transition period", which could be as early as the end of 2020.

The Sun newspaper reports that Downing Street is considering asking Ireland to voluntarily diverge from European Union rules in order to prevent a hard border between the two countries after Britain leaves the EU.