May must come clean on Brexit backstop U-turn

by Sam Ashworth-Hayes | 08.11.2018

Theresa May looks like she is about to make another huge U-turn in the Brexit talks. Her “backstop” plan for dodging a hard Irish border could involve signing up to a regulatory “level playing field” with the EU as well as the customs union. This would stop the UK undercutting EU market standards on state aid, workers’ rights and the environment. Her cabinet is not sold on the idea, with Chris Grayling concerned it “would mean a single market through the backdoor”.

There’s little wrong with single market rules. After all, the UK has spent 45 years helping to write them. But it’s quite another matter to follow rules without any say over what they are. It’s not just Brexiters who don’t want to be turned into what Boris Johnson calls a “vassal state”. Patriotic pro-Europeans don’t like becoming a rule-taker either.

With May still stuck in negotiations with her own Cabinet, it’s no wonder that Irish PM Leo Varadkar thinks the chances of a deal this month are slipping away.

Write to your MP to
demand a People's Vote


And this isn’t the only problem May’s facing. Ministers are demanding to see the full legal advice on May’s Irish border backstop amid concerns that there could be no way out without the EU’s consent. The row has already seen a cabinet meeting delayed, and could drag the timetable of talks even further off course.

Some want to go a step further and see the advice made public, allowing MPs – and the British people – to judge for themselves whether the proposal is any good. Labour is threatening to use a so-called “humble address” motion in Parliament next Tuesday to force the government to publish. They will expect support from the DUP, Liberal Democrats and probably a number of Tory rebels.

May is fighting tooth and nail to stop this from happening. If she had any faith that her deal was a good one, she’d have nothing to worry about. Her refusal to publish legal advice shows she is trying to herd her Cabinet, MPs and the public into a “blindfold” Brexit full of risk. This makes it all the more important that the public know what’s happening, and have the chance to reject it in a People’s Vote.

Edited by Luke Lythgoe

4 Responses to “May must come clean on Brexit backstop U-turn”

  • The time is soon approaching for Labour to find its well-hidden backbone, and tell some home-truths to the feckless charlatans trying to run the country into the ground. The majority do not want Brexit, and so far, they are politically unrepresented.

  • You are correct, Bob. Both main parties are putting their own interests first rather than what is best for the U.K. The Tories are in fighting but May is trying to tell us her party is united behind her. If they are united, then I open the batting for England. Corbyn is scared to death of losing votes. He should look at how opinion is changing. His policy of. a gen election first is not going to happen, so he should change tact and call for a People’s Vote, then get out there and campaign hard to keep this country in the U.K.

  • The Brexiteer argument that there is a modern technology solution to the Irish border is a sham. If the technology were to be 100% foolproof, then why could it not be introduced at Dover or Heathrow? Perhaps, the EU negotiators should call the Government’s bluff and suggest measures to introduce it at Dover and Heathrow be simultaneously put into place as a demonstration of the Government’s good faith. Including the complete phasing out of immigration officials and border police. You can imagine the outcry that would receive from Daily Express/UKIP quarters.

    Of course the scale of movements at Dover etc. are completly different to the Irish border, but if ministers are so confident that the technology is completly foolproof in carrying out the necessary checks and controls, then that shouldn’t matter.