London, August 20: United Kingdom (UK) Prime Minister Boris Johnson has opened his bid to renegotiate Brexit deal with the European Union (EU), demanding the removal of the Irish backstop from the Brexit agreement and replaced it with a vow.
After over three years of Brexit impasse, the UK is finally heading towards a final confrontation with the bloc as Johnson has pledged to withdraw Britain from the EU scheduled on October 31 with or without any deal, unless it green flags to renegotiate the divorce arrangements.
The EU and its leaders have reiterated refusal to relaunch the Withdrawal Agreement which includes the official procedure on the Irish border ‘backstop’ that was agreed by ex-Prime Minister Theresa May in November.
In his opening bid before scheduled meetings with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron this week, Johnson delivered a four-page letter to the European Council chief, Donald Tusk, displaying his demands, according to Reuters.
“I propose that the backstop should be replaced with a commitment to put in place (alternative) arrangements as far as possible before the end of the transition period, as part of the future relationship,” Johnson wrote. “Time is very short.”
Johnson held a telephonic conversation with his Irish counterpart Leo Varadkar, during which the Irish official reiterated the bloc’s position that the withdrawal deal can’t be relaunched.
The EU seeks to ensure its only land border along with the UK doesn’t become a “back door” for items to enter the bloc’s single market – which promises free supplies of capital, labour, goods, and services, after Brexit.
But, Ireland says the checks could undermine Good Friday deal inked in 1998, which brought peace in the region after claimed the lives of 3,600 individuals during a three-decade conflict between the unionists who sought Northern Ireland to continue to remain in British and the Irish nationalists who seek Northern Ireland to come together with a united Ireland, ruled from Dublin.
And the UK doesn’t want any border – virtual or effective, between Northern Ireland and Britain. Northern Irish unionists have propped up the government of Johnson.
The backstop – a compromising deal – would keep the UK in a customs union with the bloc until a solution is reached, and keep Northern Ireland in line with the EU’s single market rules.
The British prime minister wrote the Irish backstop threatened the sovereignty of the UK and called it anti-democratic.
“It presents the whole of the UK with the choice of remaining in a customs union and aligned with those rules, or of seeing Northern Ireland gradually detached from the UK economy across a very broad range of areas,” Johnson said. “Both of those outcomes are unacceptable to the British government.”
He further argues the backstop deal would risk weakening of sensitive balance between unionists and nationalists in Northern Ireland.
Johnson said the better solution was a vow to keep arrangements very far as much possible before the transition period ends and that it could be agreed as a part of the agreements over the UK’s future ties with the EU.
Under this recent text of the “Withdrawal Agreement”, the Irish backstop would be raised at the transition period’s end in 2020, establishing a single UK-EU customs territory, also including “level playing field” laws to ensure fair competition in sectors such as labor standards, environment, and state aid.