Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Secretary of State for Brexit has warned the European Union’s chief negotiator that Theresa May’s “colony status” withdrawal treaty is off the table, and that “political realities have changed” since the European Parliament elections and the downfall of Theresa May.
“We have a clear and unambiguous position – we will leave the EU on October 31st, whatever the circumstances,” Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay insisted in an articlepublished by the Mail on Sunday, warning that the British government “would prefer to leave with a new deal, but will be ready to leave without one, having made all the necessary preparations.”
The Department for Exiting the European Union (DExEU) said that his opposite number in Brussels Michel Barnier [pictured, above] was, so far, refusing to budge, “telling us his instructions from European leaders mean he cannot change [the deal]… his mandate is his mandate – he can only negotiate what the Commission and leaders of member states have agreed.”
The Brit suggested that, in that case, the EU negotiator needed to either secure a new mandate or get ready for No Deal, as the new prime minister will “not accept that [issues related to the Irish border] can be solved only by all or part of the UK remaining in the Customs Union and Single Market” through the so-called backstop which was the most contentious issue with Mrs May’s deal — although far from the only one.
“MPs have been clear they cannot allow the people of Northern Ireland to have an indefinite period of continued alignment foisted on them,” Barclay said. His remarks referenced the way in which the backstop envisions the British province of Northern Ireland being, in essence, economically annexed to the EU’s Customs Union and Single Market in order to maintain “frictionless” trade with EU member-state the Republic of Ireland — while the rest of the United Kingdom would be signed up to an EU-controlled “single customs territory” in order to avoid the erection of a customs border between its own Home Nations.
“It would mean Northern Irish voters – UK citizens – being governed by rules in which they have no say,” he said.
“There is simply no chance of any deal being passed that includes the anti-democratic backstop. This is the reality that the EU has to face… [but] a deal is entirely possible if the EU takes a reasonable and sensible approach. They should start by giving their chief negotiator, Mr Barnier, the room to negotiate.”