Iain Duncan Smith seeks assurance from PM on backstop alternative arrangements deadline

26th February 2019

Following the Prime Minister’s statement to the House of Commons on the Government’s work to secure a withdrawal agreement that Parliament will approve, Iain Duncan Smith calls on the PM to ensure that the alternative arrangements to the backstop have a legally binding deadline date. 

Very kind of you, Mr Speaker. I welcome my right hon. Friend’s statement. Clearly, she is right that we would prefer to have a deal. In the statement, she talked about alternative arrangements, which are based, it appears, on the Malthouse compromise details. May I remind my right hon. Friend that it is clear, behind closed doors, that UK Government officials and the EU recognise that what is currently in the backstop is unworkable and that they will therefore have to implement alternative arrangements? When she sits down with them to ask for that, could she now say that those alternative arrangements must reach a point of a deadline date and be bound legally, so that they cannot renege from that after we leave?

In fact, there has not been the suggestion that the arrangements in the backstop are unworkable. What there has been in the discussions with the European Union is an acceptance of the desire to discuss those alternative arrangements, work on them, and have them in place such that, were it the case that we ended the implementation period without the future relationship in place and that insurance policy for no hard border in Northern Ireland was necessary, we would have the alternative arrangements to put in place, rather than the backstop as it is currently within the withdrawal agreement. One of the key issues raised by the European Union around the alternative arrangements actually relates to the significant number of derogations from European Union law that will be necessary to put the alternative arrangements in place.

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