October 31 is the date the UK is aiming to exit the European Union – and with the deadline looming ever closer, the pressure is on Prime Minister Boris Johnson to deliver on his promises. One of the main sticking points in Theresa May’s withdrawal agreement is the Irish Backstop, which prevents a hard border in Ireland. Mr Johnson has called for it to be removed from the deal but the EU is sticking firm, saying the backstop arrangements cannot be altered.
In response, Mr Johnson lashed out at EU officials – saying there was “bags of time” for the European Union to compromise on the backstop.
He said the current deal would turn the UK into a “satellite state” should it go through.
Speaking in Oxfordshire the Prime Minister said the current deal is designed to ”keep us locked in EU regulatory orbit, locked in the EU trading system, unable to control our own laws.
“We need change on that, once we get change on that I think we’re at the races, and I think there’s a good deal to be done.”
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But what is the mood in Ireland with Mr Johnson’s stance on the Irish backstop?
RTE’s Europe Editor Tony Connelly outlined the thinking in Dublin in a thread on Twitter.
He wrote: “To add to the numerous threads out there on Brexit, Dublin’s reading of the UK positioning is as follows:
“Boris Johnson & his team are basically hardballing towards a No Deal through rhetoric and sloganeering. Hence ‘undemocratic backstop’ etc.
“They are retroactively rejecting the key elements of the backstop that were agreed as part of the 2017 Joint Report which allowed the divorce negotiations to move into Phase II, ie the transition and starting to look at the Future Relationship.
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“UK govt now rejecting the Joint Report’s commitment to the “all-island economy”, instead limiting the aim to nothing more than “no infrastructure at the border”.”
Mr Connelly critiqued the calls to remove the backstop, without the UK “coming forward with alternatives.”
He also added when Brexit Negotiator David Frost met with the European Commission, “he was asked, if (theoretically) the backstop was removed would the HoC accept the WA, and the answer was No”.
Mr Connelly said: “The UK is now rejecting the level-playing field provisions of the WA which the EU had seen as a buffer against a low-regulation Singapore on Thames emerging on its doorstep.
“As such beyond No Deal Boris Johnson would seek a Canada-Dry FTA with no level playing field provisions.
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“Dublin regards a welter of disparaging press comment about Irish political leaders as part of a sustained effort to strongarm Ireland into shifting its position.
“Dublin believes EU26 are still solidly behind Ireland, even more so given the aggressive approach by Number 10 and the trash-talking of the backstop and level playing field issues.
Overall Mr Connelly believes “a No Deal is much more likely but that in due course when the UK come back to look for a trading relationship with the EU, the Irish border, citizens rights and the financial settlement will be upfront preconditions (British officials have always disputed this).”
Mr Johnson is also facing opposition from Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who has called on Cabinet Secretary Sir Mark Seawall to rule out ‘anti-democratic’ no-deal Brexit amid a General Election.
This comes after claims Mr Johnson could set any resulting election following a no-confidence vote for after the October 31 Brexit deadline.
A general election after the Brexit deadline would potentially mean MPs cannot stop the UK leaving the EU on that date, as the Commons would not be sitting.