Watered down deal on border
Government braced for political attack as cast-iron backstop guarantee is reduced to ‘one glorious fudge’ ‘It will be a political face-saving exercise’
COMPROMISES on the border backstop in the imminent Brexit deal will spark a ‘political attack’ on Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, senior Government sources confirmed.
As Mr Varadkar freely discussed the political challenges facing British PM Theresa May and DUP leader Arlene Foster this weekend, the Government braced itself for a political backlash focused on the Taoiseach.
Mr Varadkar will be forced to admit that his ‘bulletproof’ border backstop is no such thing – and will be subject to review within three years.
A source told the Irish Mail on Sunday: ‘There is going to be a deal and she’s going to throw the DUP under the bus.’
He added: ‘It’ll be a backstop but not 100%. It will be an 80% backstop.’
It is believed Ms May told the EU negotiators that she will try and push a deal through before Christmas.
Sources in Dublin and Brussels told the Mail that the UK and EU have agreed to have a review of the backstop three years after striking a deal.
A source said: ‘There will be an attack on Varadkar for allowing this review clause. There will be a review to the backstop that will have an EU/ UK component. The outcome to the review won’t be unilateral to one side or that other, it will be simply kicked on. Being frank about it, it will be one glorious fudge on everything.’
Even then, there will have to be ‘technical checks’ on British goods passing through Ireland and on to Northern Ireland. Sources in Brussels, London and Dublin said the Government is willing to accept an ‘80%’ backstop’.
This would be some way short of the backstop guarantee that there would be no hard border, which Mr Varadkar last year said was ‘bulletproof’.
Mr Varadkar and Foreign Minister Simon Coveney announced last December that they had secured a cast-iron guarantee that there would be no hard border after Brexit, deal or no deal.
However, as revealed in the MoS, last month, any backstop on the border will be time limited. It is understood Brussels and London have agreed that it should be reviewed three years after March 2019.
The ‘technical checks’ on British goods travelling through Ireland to Northern Ireland will be opposed by the DUP, as it would represent a different customs arrangement between Northern Ireland and Britain.
A Government figure involved in the high-level talks said last night that ‘a watered down’ backstop for Northern Ireland is going to ‘open Leo to attacks from all sides’ and he will be ‘damaged’.
Diplomatic figures confirmed that a deal will be struck in early December.
‘Everyone will get something from it. It won’t be a vindication or 100%. It will be a political face-saving exercise.
‘Ms May believes she can get it through without the DUP, with defections from Labour. But of course it’s nowhere near certain. Everything she does is a gamble. It is pretty tight one way or another.
‘If it’s done in the first week of December they could get it done by Christmas week. They need three weeks apparently,
‘The absolute priority is for her to get it through the UK parliament by Christmas week,’ the source said.
crisis: How the MoS broke stories last month on Mrs May’s plans to deal with the border problem