Following the Prime Minister’s statement on leaving the European Union, Iain Duncan Smith asks if the alternative to the backstop known as the “Malthouse compromise” is now part of Government policy.
May I thank my right hon. Friend for her statement, in which she referred to the successful amendment tabled by my hon. Friend the Member for Altrincham and Sale West (Sir Graham Brady)? She will recall that its successful passage was heavily based on a thing that has become known as the “Malthouse compromise”. She has also said that this proposal was discussed yesterday in Brussels by the Secretary of State and one of the negotiators. For the avoidance of doubt, will she confirm that this proposal forms part of Government policy?
I know my right hon. Friend has been involved in the meetings that have taken place with the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, looking at the proposals that have come to be known as the Malthouse compromise. Of course, a number of alternative arrangements have been proposed over the past months. The possibility of alternative arrangements to replace the backstop is recognised by both the UK and the EU in the political declaration that was agreed in November. There are some issues and some questions in respect of the proposals that have been tabled. I raised the issue of alternative arrangements with the European Commission, European Council and European Parliament when I was there last week. As I said, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State was able to discuss these issues with Michel Barnier yesterday.
As I set out in my previous statement to the House, what people across this House want to ensure is that the backstop, as it currently exists, cannot become a permanent arrangement in which the UK could find itself. There are various ways of dealing with that: as I set out in my previous statement, one is to replace that backstop completely with alternative arrangements; and another is to ensure that the backstop can never be permanent. Those are the issues that have been discussed, but I have laid Parliament’s views clearly before the EU.