PM’s headache as concern raised over Irish border

PM's headache as concern raised over Irish border

They are wary of the secrecy and implications of the prime minister’s plan for the Irish backstop – the agreement suggested in December to come up with a way to protect current border arrangements with Ireland.

Brexit Secretary David Davis has expressed private concerns about some of the details of the arrangement – in particular whether it is truly time limited as promised by the PM.

Many Tory Brexiteer MPs fear the backstop, which involves very close alignment with the customs union and single market, will in fact become the default long-term solution.

At a news conference, Mr Davis said if there’s agreement the Irish backstop plans would be published.

Asked if he could stay in his job if the government’s backstop proposals did not have his explicit approval, Mr Davis said That’s a question I think for the prime minister to be honest.

Mr Davis said the detail of the document was still being discussed, adding It has been through one Cabinet committee, it is going to another one and it would be improper of me to preempt the negotiation there, but I suspect it will be fairly decisive.

Mr Davis hinted at his frustration the government’s promised Brexit white paper had not yet been published.

In debates in Whitehall between fast and slow, I normally vote for fast. That’s probably a given, Mr Davis said.

Meanwhile, Sky News understands that Tory Brexit rebels were told the chief whip’s plans to ram through all 15 Commons votes on Lords amendments to the EU (Withdrawal) Bill in one day would now be spread over two days.

Tory MPs did not sign up to a deal with the PM, with 12 of them rebelling further than ever before by signing an amendment to the trade bill backing membership of the European Economic Area.

Sky News understands the backstop agreement is vitally important to this group of Tory MPs, whose support is needed by the PM to defeat the Lords amendments and to boost her negotiation mandate in Brussels.

The PM must settle the Ireland issue at home to allow her negotiator Oliver Robbins to engage on it with Michel Barnier, the European chief negotiator.

The EU and Ireland say there must be substantial progress on Ireland at the June EU summit.

So far, the UK has not put forward a workable counter proposal to the EU on the backstop at all.

Some MPs expressed concern assurances the backstop had already been signed off by Cabinet may have been premature.

One said It is a dreadful awful mess. It just piles up.

Another said late last night I understand David Davis has now disowned the backstop.

A group of Tory MPs attempting to broker a compromise described the situation as very fluid.

The PM is expected to go to the G7 Summit meeting in Canada later today.


News Source SkyNews

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