With deadlines fast approaching as the last chance for both the EU and the UK to finalise a post-Brexit association agreement, the matter has become further complicated after UK Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab privately demanded to Ireland’s Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney that London retain the right to pull the UK out of any short-term fix, or backstop, over the status of Ireland.
Raab’s plan would give the UK the right to ask for a “review mechanism” within three to six months of the backstop agreement taking effect and to allow its further implementation to continue only by mutual consent, according to reports.
Ireland and the EU want guarantees there will be no physical structures that mark the land border between the Northern Ireland, which will remain in the United Kingdom, and EU-member Ireland as soon as Brexit becomes official in March 2019.
Coveney took to Twitter to clarify Ireland’s position that a “time-limited backstop” that could be unilaterally implemented by the UK would never get the go-ahead from Ireland or the EU.
The Irish position remains consistent and v clear that a “time-limited backstop” or a backstop that could be ended by UK unilaterally would never be agreed to by IRE or EU. These ideas are not backstops at all + don’t deliver on previous UK commitments #Brexit pic.twitter.com/y7AQ8V1jMo
— Simon Coveney (@simoncoveney) November 5, 2018
“We are not there yet,” the European Commission’s chief spokesman, Margaritis Schinas, told reporters in reference to the ongoing technical negotiations to seal a Brexit deal, though he did emphasize that progress is being made.