No ‘credible’ proposals from UK on Brexit backstop, Irish foreign minister says

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Ireland’s foreign minister has said that the UK has not made concrete or credible proposals to replace the Irish border backstop in its Brexit deal with the EU, adding that if it has any alternatives, “then let’s hear them.”

“There is no country that wants a deal more than Ireland,” Simon Coveney told reporters in Helsinki on Friday. “But that deal has to be based on the Withdrawal Agreement and has to be consistent with that.”

London has said UK negotiators will hold twice-weekly talks with the EU next month to rework the agreement, which British MPs have rejected repeatedly, before the country is due to leave the bloc on October 31. 

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British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said the UK will leave on that date with or without an agreement in place, and that the issue of the backstop, which will keep an open border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland after Brexit, must be removed so as to get the deal ratified in Parliament. 

However, Coveney said, “It cannot simply be this notion that we must have the backstop removed and we’ll solve this problem in the future negotiations, without any credible way of doing that. 

“That’s not going to fly.”

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British Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said Coveney’s comments that the UK government has failed to offer different proposals on the backstop are “just not true.” 

“We are putting forward alternatives,” he told Sky News. “So it’s a cover when they keep saying: ‘You are not putting forward ideas’ – we are putting forward ideas.”

The EU expressed concerns about the increased risk of a no-deal Brexit after Johnson’s government suspended the UK Parliament until just two weeks before the Brexit deadline. British Foreign Minister Dominic Raab told reporters in Helsinki that claims that the maneuver was a constitutional outrage were “nonsense.”

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