Boris Johnson's latest request to drop the backstop has not gone down well
He feels the backstop is “anti-democratic and inconsistent with the sovereignty of the UK as a state”.
Boris Johnson has written to the EU suggesting the backstop could be replaced by some form of commitment to prevent a hard border in Ireland.
“You have my personal commitment that this government will work with energy and determination to achieve an agreement. That is our highest priority,” he wrote.
Instead of the backstop, Johnson proposed that alternative customs arrangements can be put in place at the Irish border within the two-year transitional period after Brexit. However, yet again, no specifics were mentioned as the prime minister proposed some vague and unspecified commitments as an alternative to the backstop.
Johnson then insisted that the EU should trust Britain and move forward in good confidence.
Throughout the letter, Johnson appears to be willing to negotiate with Brussels, however, he asks for the backstop to be removed without offering any viable alternative.
The prime minister called for "flexible and creative solutions" and "alternative arrangements" to avoid a hard border.
Brussels has consistently said that the backstop is an essential inclusion in any Withdrawal Agreement because it's required to preserve the integrity of European trade and preserve the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.
Theresa May approved of this deal with the European Union. However, it was rejected three times by the British parliament earlier this year.
In the letter, Johnson said that the backstop was “anti-democratic and inconsistent with the sovereignty of the UK as a state."
In response to that particular remark, senator Neale Richmond, the chair of the Seanad Brexit committee and Fine Gael's Brexit spokesman, called Johnson’s description of the backstop as “new found spin”.
Senator Richmond also added that Johnson had initially voted for the inclusion of the backstop in the original agreement.
Mr. Richmond also said that goodwill alone isn't enough of a reason to move forward, the majority of people in Northern Ireland support the inclusion of the backstop and that the backstop secures the Good Friday Agreement, rather than threatening it.
Johnson's four-page letter to Donald Tusk comes ahead of meetings that he has this week with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron.
Johnson's full letter can be found here.
1) The backstop is not anti democratic, that’s new found spin
2) Mr Johnson voted for it
3) Goodwill isn’t enough
4) The backstop is an insurance policy
5) The majority in Northern Ireland support the backstop
6) The backstop protects not threatens the #GFA
Nothing new alas https://t.co/JLJkSENnRj
— Neale Richmond (@nealerichmond) August 19, 2019
Am stunned off my sun lounger by this @BorisJohnson letter to @eucopresident on the irish backstop. It’s based on a big fat fallacy - that the Irish border issue can be fixed by unilateral commitments or good intentions 1/quick threadhttps://t.co/X3zzO4U1d6 pic.twitter.com/TegIJPjvrn
— Peter Foster (@pmdfoster) August 19, 2019