European Commission believes Boris Johnson's Brexit backstop plans 'fall short'

Posted On: 
21st September 2019

A leaked European Commission memo has said the latest draft proposals from the UK for a new Brexit deal “fall short of satisfying all the objectives of the Irish backstop”.

Michel Barnier, the EU's chief negotiator
Credit: 
PA

The document - seen by BuzzFeed News - says that the draft proposals put forward by the UK still do not provide any “legally operational solutions” to the backstop and warns any deal would need to include this before 31 October. 

The memo also says the UK has not offered credible proposal to prevent a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland, has not protected Ireland’s place in the single market and has failed to preserve north-south co-operation on the island in the plans it has put forward so far.

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But a UK government source defended Britain's “serious and workable” plans to avoid a hard border.

The source told BuzzFeed: "As for the Commission, two months ago they said we couldn't reopen the withdrawal agreement and there was absolutely no alternative to the backstop. Now we are having detailed discussions.

"Leaks from Brussels on Twitter are par for the course. You can set your watch by them. What we're focused on is actually getting a deal in the room. We trust they'll do the same."

The leaked memo comes as Brexit secretary, Stephen Barclay, continues his talks in Brussels. 

The Brexit Secretary said after his meeting with Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator: “We both recognise that a deal is in the interests of both sides”. Adding that “no-one wants to see no-deal” but there was “still a lot of work to do” to avoid the legal default.

And Mr Barclay suggested that final details of alternative arrangements to the backstop would not need to be finalised until December 2020 if a deal was reached. 

But a European Commission spokesperson said any solution to the Irish border problem must be "included in the Withdrawal Agreement".

They said: "We remain willing and open to examine any such proposals that meet all the objectives of the backstop."