Northern Ireland

Does May still not grasp the seriousness of the backstop problem?

BY Owen Polley   /  5 February 2019

The prime minister is in Belfast today, speaking to business leaders about her ‘Brexit strategy’; because, apparently, such a thing exists.

On her last visit to Northern Ireland, Theresa May promoted the Draft Withdrawal Agreement that she’d made with the EU, including the infamous backstop (and an Irish Sea border to which she’d previously said no British premier could ever agree). Now, in an extraordinary about-turn, she’s committed to amending that backstop with “alternative arrangements”.

The prime minister’s speech was supposed to reassure her audience that, in the few weeks of negotiations that are left, she will find a solution that “commands broad support across the community in Northern Ireland” and “secures a majority in the Westminster parliament.” Of course, it will be worthless solving even those knotty equations, if the EU rejects her suggestions.


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