Brexit: No-deal grows more likely as UK refuses to table new plan for Northern Ireland border backstop

Posted by On 12:57 PM

Brexit: No-deal grows more likely as UK refuses to table new plan for Northern Ireland border backstop

The UK is refusing to table a new plan for a Northern Ireland border backstop in Brexit talks â€" raising the prospect of disastrous no-deal as the negotiating deadline looms.

Frustrated EU officials are complaining that the UK is even making it harder for them to come up with their own new plan to break the deadlock, by dragging its feet on releasing data relating to existing checks on the border.

The Northern Ireland backstop is the biggest issue preventing withdrawal agreement from being signed â€" a state of affairs that would see the UK crash out of the block potentially causing chaos.

Brussels and Ireland have both said they would not accept a withdrawal agreement without a backstop in it to prevent a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland under any circumstances.

Theresa May flat-out rejected the EU proposal to keep Northern Ireland in the EU customs territory months ago, warning that “no British prime minister” could agree to it â€" but there has since been little progress on coming up with an alternative.

British officials in Brussels confirmed to The Independent again on Thursday that there were no immediate plans to publish a new white paper or other plan for a backstop, despite the EU request for a new proposal.

“If we need to set out further policy positions we’ll set out further policy positions,” one UK official said.

The British position is to offer a “temporary customs arrangement” from early June coupled with the Chequers proposals â€" meaning there is no need for a backstop. But EU has said this plan would not prevent a hard border and that other proposals are needed.

British officials say they want to prevent a hard border by negotiating a future relationship that removes the need for checks â€" but the prime minister’s Chequers plan has been all-but rejected by the European Commission.

For months there have been reports around Brussels that the commission is working on tweaking its own backstop proposal to “de-dramatise” it and make it more palatable to the UK, but new plans have yet to materialise.

The British government sees keeping Northern Ireland in the customs union as a thread to British sovereignty, and the Democratic Unionist Party which props up Theresa May’s minority government has said it will not accept different treatment for Northern Ireland.

Brexit threatens life on the Irish border: in pictures

15 show all Brexit threatens life on the Irish border: in pictures

1/15

John Murphy flies the European flag outside his home near the border village of Forkhill, Co Armagh Reuters

2/15

An abandoned shop is seen in Mullan, Co Monaghan. The building was home to four fa milies who left during the Troubles. The town was largely abandoned after the hard border was put in place during the conflict. Mullan has seen some regeneration in recent years, but faces an uncertain future with Brexit on the horizon Reuters

3/15

Mervyn Johnson owns a garage in the border town of Pettigo, which straddles the counties of Donegal and Fermanagh. ‘I’ve been here since 1956, it was a bit of a problem for a few years. My premises has been blown up about six or seven times, we just kept building and starting again,’ Johnson said laughing. ‘We just got used to it [the hard border] really but now that it’s gone, we wouldn't like it back again’ Reuters

4/15

Farmer Gordon Crockett’s Coshquin farm straddles both Derry/Londonderry in the North and Donegal in the Republic. ‘At the minute there is no real problem, you can cross the border as free as you want. We could cross it six or eight times a day,’ said Crockett. ‘If there was any sort of obstruction it would slow down our work every day’ Reuters

5/15

A defaced ‘Welcome to Northern Ireland’ sign stands on the border in Middletown, Co Armagh Reuters

6/15

Potter Brenda McGinn stands outside her Mullan, Co Monaghan, stud io â€" the former Jas Boylan shoe factory which was the main employer in the area until it shut down due to the Troubles. ‘When I came back, this would have been somewhere you would have driven through and have been quite sad. It was a decrepit looking village,’ said McGinn, whose Busy Bee Ceramics is one of a handful of enterprises restoring life to the community. ‘Now this is a revitalised, old hidden village’ Reuters

7/15

Union Flag colours painted on kerbstones and bus-stops along the border village of Newbuildings, Co Derry/Londonderry Reuters

8/15

Grass reflected in Lattone Lough, which is sp lit by the border between Cavan and Fermanagh, seen from near Ballinacor, Northern Ireland Reuters

9/15

Donegalman David McClintock sits in the Border Cafe in the village of Muff, which straddles Donegal and Derry/Londonderry Reuters

10/15

An old Irish phone box stands alongside a bus stop in the border town of Glaslough, Co Monaghan Reuters

11/15

Billboards are viewed from inside a disused customs hut in Carrickcarno n, Co Down, on the border with Co Louth in the Republic Reuters

12/15

Seamus McQuaid takes packages that locals on the Irish side of the border have delivered to his business, McQuaid Auto-Parts, to save money on postal fees, near the Co Fermanagh village of Newtownbutler. ‘I live in the south but the business is in the North,’ said McQaid. "I wholesale into the Republic of Ireland so if there’s duty, I’ll have to set up a company 200 yards up the road to sell to my customers. I’ll have to bring the same product in through Dublin instead of Belfast’ Reuters

13/15

A disused Great Northern R ailway line and station that was for customs and excise on the border town of Glenfarne, Co Leitrim Reuters

14/15

Alice Mullen, from Monaghan in the Republic of Ireland, does her shopping at a former customs post on the border in Middletown, Co Armagh. ‘I’d be very worried if it was a hard border, I remember when people were divided. I would be very afraid of the threat to the peace process, it was a dreadful time to live through. Even to go to mass on a Sunday, you’d have to go through checkpoints. It is terribly stressful,’ said Mullen. ‘All those barricades and boundaries were pulled down. I see it as a huge big exercise of trust and I do believe everyone breathed a sigh of relief’ Reuters

15/15

A bus stop and red post box stand in the border town of Jonesborough, Co Armagh Reuters

1/15

John Murphy flies the European flag outside his home near the border village of Forkhill, Co Armagh Reuters

2/15

An abandoned shop is seen in Mullan, Co Monaghan. The building was home to four families who left during the Troubles. The town was largely abandoned after the hard border was put in place during the conflict. Mullan has seen some regeneration in recent years, but faces an uncertain future with Brex it on the horizon Reuters

3/15

Mervyn Johnson owns a garage in the border town of Pettigo, which straddles the counties of Donegal and Fermanagh. ‘I’ve been here since 1956, it was a bit of a problem for a few years. My premises has been blown up about six or seven times, we just kept building and starting again,’ Johnson said laughing. ‘We just got used to it [the hard border] really but now that it’s gone, we wouldn't like it back again’ Reuters

4/15

Farmer Gordon Crockett’s Coshquin farm straddles both Derry/Londonderry in the North and Donegal in the Republic. ‘At the minute there is no real problem, you can cross the border as free as you want. We could cross it six or eight times a day,’ said Crockett. ‘If there was any sort of obstruction it would slow down our work every day’ Reuters

5/15

A defaced ‘Welcome to Northern Ireland’ sign stands on the border in Middletown, Co Armagh Reuters

6/15

Potter Brenda McGinn stands outside her Mullan, Co Monaghan, studio â€" the former Jas Boylan shoe factory which was the main employer in the area until it shut down due to the Troubles. ‘When I came back, this would have been somewhere you would have driven through and have been quite sad. It was a decrepit looking village,’ said McGinn, whose Busy Bee Ceramics is one of a handful of enterprises restoring life to the community. ‘Now this is a revitalised, old hidden village’ Reuters

7/15

Union Flag colours painted on kerbstones and bus-stops along the border village of Newbuildings, Co Derry/Londonderry Reuters

8/15

Grass reflected in Lattone Lough, which is split by the border between Cavan and Fermanagh, seen from near Ballinacor, Northern Ireland Reuters

9/15

Donegalman David McClintock sits in the Border Cafe in the village of Muff, which straddles Donegal and Derry/Londonderry Reuters

10/15

An old Irish phone box stands alongside a bus stop in the border town of Glaslough, Co Monaghan Reuters

11/15

Billboards are viewed from inside a disused customs hut in Carrickcarnon, Co Down, on the border with Co Louth in the Republic Reuters

12/15 Seamus McQuaid takes packages that locals on the Irish side of the border have delivered to his business, McQuaid Auto-Parts, to save money on postal fees, near the Co Fermanagh village of Newtownbutler. ‘I live in the south but the business is in the North,’ said McQaid. "I wholesale into the Republic of Ireland so if there’s duty, I’ll have to set up a company 200 yards up the road to sell to my customers. I’ll have to bring the same product in through Dublin instead of Belfast’ Reuters

13/15

A disused Great Northern Railway line and station that was for customs and excise on the border town of Glenfarne, Co Leitrim Reuters

14/15

Alice Mullen, from Monaghan in the Republic of Ireland, does her shopping at a former customs post on the border in Middletown, Co Armagh. ‘I’d be very worried if it was a hard border, I remember when people were divided. I would be very afraid of the threat to the peace process, it was a dreadful time to live through. Even to go to mass on a Sunday, you’d have to go through checkpoints. It is terribly stressful,’ said Mullen. ‘All those barricades and boundaries were pulled down. I see it as a huge big exercise of trust and I do believe everyone breathed a sigh of relief’ Reuters

15/15

A bus stop and red post box stand in the border town of Jonesborough, Co Armagh Reuters

But Brussels officials familiar with negotiations say that the commission’s plans to come up with an alternative backstop have been slow because the UK has not yet provided data about checks which already take place on the border, which the commission believes might help it come up with a new proposal.

One frustrated Brussels official said: “While also refusing to table their own version of a backstop, the UK is refusing to hand over the data.”

But British officials say they will be handing over the data in due course and are not refusing to do so.

The deadline for a withdrawal agreement to be signed is October/November, with other issues like data protection regulations, as well as the recognition of protected product names are also yet to be settled.

The chancellor today warned that there would likely be further austerity cuts in the event of a no-deal, while trade experts have warned of a massive hit to the British economy and queues of lorries at ports.

Source: Google News Ireland | Netizen 24 Ireland

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