Tory group appointed to discuss Irish backstop options

Posted February 06, 2019

Theresa May has sought to reassure business leaders and politicians in Northern Ireland that there will be no return to a hard border on the island of Ireland.

THERESA May will stress that she can deliver a Brexit deal that avoids a hard border, during a visit to Belfast this afternoon.

May now needs the support of both eurosceptic and pro-remain Tory rebels as well as the backing of lawmakers from the Northern Irish DUP party, which props up her minority government, if she wants her Brexit deal to get through the House of Commons, the lower chamber of Parliament.

While Merkel said she did not want the so-called Withdrawal Agreement renegotiated, she added that hard questions could be resolved with creativity, the strongest hint to date that the EU's most powerful leader could be prepared to compromise.

She reiterated her commitment to uphold the principles of the Good Friday peace agreement.

EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said that backstop remains "the only operational solution available" for an orderly exit of Britain from the EU.

The row comes as the prime minister sets up a new committee of Conservative MPs created to work on "alternative arrangements" to the backstop.

The EU has repeatedly ruled out removing the backstop and the prime minister herself has insisted that any withdrawal deal must include it in some form.

But agreeing a deal with Brussels is the other hurdle, and one that has no Irish backstop other than existing technical measures doesn't quite sound like their cup of tea. To do so, she is trying to reopen talks with Brussels on the deal she spent 18 months negotiating before Parliament rejected it by a record margin last month.

The Prime Minister is meeting all the major political parties in Northern Ireland on the second day of her visit to the region.

The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), which represents the travel and tourism sector worldwide, based its assessment on the forecast from the International Monetary Fund that the British economy will be 7.7 percent smaller over the next decade in a "no deal" scenario.

The border between the Irish Republic and Northern Ireland will be the UK's only land border with the European Union after Brexit, now scheduled on March 29.

Britain is scheduled to leave the bloc on March 29, but no withdrawal agreement has been approved because Britain's Parliament has voted down May's plan.

Suzanne Breen of the Belfast Telegraph asked: "Prime Minister, given that many business figures in this room may feel that you betrayed and shafted them on the backstop in your recent U-turn, why should they believe any of the pledges you made to them today?"

With a large number of European Union citizens employed in United Kingdom museums, the MA also said the "confusion around the European Union settlement scheme is unacceptable".

Jean-Marc Puissesseau said he does not want to see the Transport Secretary again after it emerged that Mr Grayling had plans to divert sea traffic from the French port in the event that a deal is not agreed between the European Union and UK.

To date, Barclays, Royal Bank of Scotland, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Lloyds and many other significant companies have set up hubs across the continent ready for the European Union withdrawal.

The Sunday Times does note that while plans are in place for the Queen's evacuation, it does not mean she would willingly leave London in the event of unrest.