BREXIT Secretary Stephen Barclay has told reporters in Madrid that alternative backstop plans and ‘not necessary’ until the end of a 2020 transition period.
The 14-month period in which Britain prepares for exit from the EU will be included in an upcoming deal, expected between October 17-31.
Barclay said any new deal negotiated by Boris Johnson’s government must ‘acknowledge and reflect the political reality in the UK’ – a situation which means current backstop plans ‘must go’.
However, the Brexit Secretary said alternative arrangements do not need to be concrete until the end of the grace period.
“Why risk crystallising an undesirable result this November, when both sides can work together until December 2020?” Barclay asked during a Europa Press ‘informative breakfast’ in Madrid.
“We risk being trapped in a zero-sum game.
“A rigid approach is no way to progress a deal, and responsibility falls with both sides to found a solution.”
Previous deals with the EU have stalled over the nature of Northern Ireland’s relationship with both the Republic of Ireland and the UK.
Barclay reminded reporters that parliament rejected May’s withdrawal deal ‘three times’ leading to ‘two extensions’ of the Brexit departure date.
“A new deal be something my parliamentary colleagues can accept, and that means the backstop has to go,” Barclay said.
He added current backstop proposals – which would see Northern Ireland remain with the EU’s single market and customs union for an ‘indefinite period’ – fell foul of the Good Friday agreement, would mean the EU controls how long Northern Ireland remains in the EU’s sphere and without a say over its rules and regulations.
“My message is clear: the UK wants a deal. There are just 42 days until we leave, but it is sufficient for a deal,” Barclay told the meeting or reporters and Spanish business representatives.
“Can the backstop be replaced? We believe it can. We can we seize this opportunity and find a landing zone in a creative, flexible way.
“Now is not the time for protestors; let’s work creatively to secure a deal, a deal which gives citizens certainty they need and pass both the UK parliament and the EU parliament.
It comes after Barclay flew into the Spanish capital last night from Cypress.
The Brexit Secretary will meet with organisations representing British residents in Spain today, before flying to Brussels to meet the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier tomorrow.