In the Brexit latest, Prime Minister Theresa May announced yesterday in the House of Commons that “95% of the withdrawal agreement and its protocols are now settled”.
She told MPs that the remaining 5% still to be negotiated was “the backstop”.
Four steps to victory
May outlined four steps to break the impasse between the UK and the EU over the Northern Ireland backstop issue:
- Making a “temporary UK-EU joint customs territory legally binding so that the Northern Ireland-only proposal is no longer needed”.
- To flesh out the option of extending the implementation period, or what has previously been called the transition period, “as an alternative to the backstop”.
Although she said she did not think this option was desirable or would be necessary.
May explained that extra time, “a short extension” might be worthwhile in that it would mean “only one set of changes for businesses at the point we move to the future relationship”.
- To ensure that either the time extension or the backstop would be temporary.
- Lastly, the Prime Minister said she must “deliver the commitments” made for continued access for Northern Ireland businesses to the UK market.
Breaking the impasse
Once May had outlined her four steps in the Commons, she added: “Let us remember that all these steps are about insurance policies that no one in the UK or the EU wants or expects to use, so we cannot let this become the barrier to reaching the future partnership we all want to see.
“We have to explore every possible option to break the impasse, and that is what I am doing.”
Hinting at comments from over the weekend from rogue Tory MPs, where aggressive language and imagery was used to predict the Prime Minister’s demise, she said: “It is incumbent on all of us in public life to be careful about the language we use.
“There are passionate beliefs and views on this and other subjects, but whatever the subject we should all be careful about our language.”
The People’s Vote march
There were calls for a response to the People’s Vote march from Saturday that took place in London and which one Labour MP described as “those reasonable voices”.
May said: “I believe it is right that we gave the people the vote in 2016. They voted to leave and we will deliver on that.”
To a fellow Conservative MP, she said: “I can absolutely guarantee to my honourable friend that we will be leaving the EU on 29 March 2019.”