Boris Johnson has faced mixed reaction as he set out new plans to deal with the problem of the border on the island of Ireland and avoid the backstop.
The prime minister has written to EU chiefs including Michel Barnier and Jean-Claude Juncker, setting out a proposal which would see the current backstop scrapped and replaced with a mixture of checks at ports on the Irish Sea and away from the border in Ireland.
The backstop is a way of avoiding a hard border between Ireland – which is in the EU – and Northern Ireland after the UK leaves.
His plan was met with praise from some at home, including the DUP, but it was “not positive” over the Channel in Brussels.
Here’s what six people the prime minister will have to impress think.
Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission
After speaking to Mr Johnson on the phone, a statement read: “The Prime Minister informed the president about the contents of the UK’s latest proposal.
“President Juncker welcomed Prime Minister Johnson’s determination to advance the talks ahead of the October European Council and make progress towards a deal.
“He acknowledged the positive advances, notably with regards to the full regulatory alignment for all goods and the control of goods entering Northern Ireland from Great Britain.
“However, the President also noted that there are still some problematic points that will need further work in the coming days, notably with regards to the governance of the backstop.”
Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator
He said: “There is progress. But to be frank, a lot of work still needs to be done to reach and to fulfil the three objectives of the backstop: no border, all-Ireland economy, and protecting the single market.
“That means protecting the consumers, the citizens, and the businesses inside the single market, the 27 member states.
“So now we will continue to work, to work to reach a deal. The no-deal will never be the choice of the EU. Never. So, we will continue to reach a deal and to work with the UK team.”
Guy Verhofstadt, Brexit co-ordinator
Speaking to reporters, he said: “The first reaction of the Brexit steering group was not positive.
“Not positive in sense that we don’t think this is really the safeguard that Ireland needs.
“Tomorrow we will give point after point the reason for that, what is not acceptable. Tomorrow there will be written statement.
“But the first assessment of nearly every member was not positive.”
Asked about whether he thought Boris Johnson was trying to make a deal, or trying to put the blame onto the EU, he said: “That last point is not so bad.”
Leo Varadkar, the Irish prime minister
After speaking on the phone to Mr Johnson, a statement released by Mr Varadkar’s office read: “The Taoiseach said the proposals do not fully meet the agreed objectives of the backstop.
“However, he indicated that he would study them in further detail, and would consult with the EU institutions, including the Task Force and our EU partners.
“The Taoiseach said he wants to see a deal agreed and ratified, and will continue to work in unity with our EU partners to this end.”
Arlene Foster, leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP)
The leader of the DUP, the party with which supports the Conservatives in government, said: “This is a sensible way forward, it is a stable way forward, it allows the people of Northern Ireland a role which they didn’t have, it gives them the consent they didn’t have in terms of the anti-democratic nature of the backstop and I hope people will look at it in a serious way.”
In a statement, the party said: “These proposals would ensure that Northern Ireland would be out of the EU customs union and the single market as with the rest of the United Kingdom.”
Jeremy Corbyn, Labour leader
The leader of the opposition said: “It’s worse than Theresa May’s deal and I can’t see it getting the support that he thinks it will get and it will take us into a regime in Britain of deregulation, of undercutting and I think will also undermine the Good Friday Agreement.
“What’s worse is particularly the section on Northern Ireland, which is very unspecific on how the Good Friday Agreement can be upheld within the terms of the letter.
“But also much worse, is the specific intention to deregulate alongside Europe.
“Whereas, in fact, when we were negotiating with Theresa May’s government they did agree to some degree of regulation and our talks broke down because they were not strong enough on environmental regulation.
“But this prime minister seems to want to have a deregulated Britain with a race to the bottom.”
Source : Sky News : http://news.sky.com/story/boris-johnsons-brexit-plan-what-six-key-players-think-11825657
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