Tuesday 18 June 2019

Taoiseach stresses importance of 'backstop option' for border in Brexit phonecall to Theresa May

Leo Varadkar meets Theresa May at 10 Downing Street in June. Photo: Dominic Lipinski/PA
Leo Varadkar meets Theresa May at 10 Downing Street in June. Photo: Dominic Lipinski/PA

Shona Murray

The Taoiseach has stressed to UK Prime Minister Theresa May the importance of having the details of a "backstop option" in the EU–UK deal aimed at protecting the invisible border with the North.

Mr Varadkar spoke to Ms May on the phone tonight.

A draft text of the Withdrawal Agreement containing details of the deal reached before Christmas will be published on Wednesday.

"They discussed Brexit and, in particular, the draft Withdrawal Agreement," said the Taoiseach’s office in a statement of the phonecall.

The text will outline the three options agreed by all sides late last year, which commits Britain to ensuring there will be no need for a hard, physical border separating The North from the Irish State.

The first option or Option 'A' will be an arrangement keeping Britain and the EU’s relationship almost as close as it is now. This is unlikely to happen because Britain says it is leaving the customs union and the Single Market.

Option 'B' is for a solution to emerge through the use of a range of technical apparatus such as camera, barcodes and registration.

No detail has been forthcoming by Britain on this yet.

Option 'C' or the backstop option commits Britain to "regulatory alignment".

This means Britain will continue to follow the EU rules and regulations of the single market and customs union necessary to protect cross border cooperation and the all-island economy.

"Both the Taoiseach and the Prime Minister said they want the options, as set out in the December Joint Report, to be examined in detail," said the statement from the Taoiseach.

Mr Varadkar "repeated the necessity from the EU side to have the detail of the backstop option of full regulatory alignment spelled out in the draft legal text of the Withdrawal Agreement."

Theresa May is due to give another speech giving more detail on British vision for its future relationship with the EU this Friday.

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