EU head firmly buried in sand over backstop: Dodds

31 January 2019

The DUP’s MEP for Northern Ireland Diane Dodds has said its time for a sensible and pragmatic renegotiation in Brussels.

Mrs Dodds was responding to a speech by EU Chief Brexit Negotiator Michel Barnier following the House of Commons’ decision to seek legally-binding changes to the draft withdrawal agreement.

Diane Dodds MEP

Member of the EU Agriculture and Rural Development Committee, Substitute member of the EU Fisheries Committee

Diane Dodds

Mrs Dodds said,

“The EU has claimed it needed clarity from the UK.  It needed a clear ask. Last night MPs delivered a crystal clear response. MPs reiterated that only through legally-binding changes will a Brexit deal pass in the House of Commons. Sadly, Michel Barnier has indicated the EU is now not willing to listen.

Rather than a roadmap to avoiding a hard border, the backstop is now the primary roadblock to a better and fairer deal.

The current plan would jeopardise the constitutional and economic integrity of the United Kingdom, threaten our internal market and fail to honour the referendum result. It would also tear up the principle of consent in the Belfast Agreement and undermine cross-border cooperation set out in that Agreement by handing control of areas like agriculture solely to the EU. This is not as Mr Barnier claims ‘a realistic solution.’

The EU may be burying its head in the sand but there is no path to ratifying a final Brexit deal without legally-enforceable changes to the draft withdrawal agreement. The backstop trap doesn’t simply hold the threat of a bad deal but of no deal at all.

Mr Barnier cannot paper over the cracks emerging in the EU position. National leaders across Europe are beginning to realise that the single-track focus on the backstop may in fact lead to the very outcome it set out to avoid.

To insist on a proposal which is not deliverable in the UK, shows intransigence not only to the British people but to governments and communities across the EU who seek close and mutual cooperation.

We say calmly and clearly to the EU leadership that we do not need the backstop. Michel Barnier has already said that without it or without a deal at all “we will have to find an operational way of carrying out checks and controls without putting in place a border.” If such political will had been shown from the beginning perhaps a better outcome could have been secured.

It is now time for a sensible and pragmatic renegotiation. The DUP will continue to advocate for a final settlement that upholds the constitutional position and economic interests of Northern Ireland. Instead of attempting to save face the EU should get to grips with what is needed and commit to reopening the legal text.”

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