Today, the chief negotiator of the European Union insisted that the Brexit deal negotiated with Theresa May, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom is set in stone. His comments come as Poland broke its ranks to suggest a fundamental change to the agreement.
In an interview with RTE, an Irish broadcaster, this afternoon, Michel Barnier said that “the withdrawal agreement with all its dimensions, including the backstop, is the best deal possible.”
The so-called backstop is an arrangement to prevent a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland by linking the United Kingdom into a temporary customs union with the Europea Union.
However, the United Kingdom cannot exit this arrangement of its own accord, something that has proven to be unpopular with all the parties and resulted in the deal being defeated by the parliament earlier this month.
However, the foreign minister of Poland said that he would be in favour of limiting the backstop to only five years in order to help the British Prime Minister get a version of her deal through the parliament.
In an interview with the BBC, Jacek Czaputowicz said that doing so would be a means of “unblocking” the negotiations, which have hampered as May is preparing to present her “plan B” to the parliament later this afternoon.
However, Barnier has poured cold water on any suggestions that the European Union would return to the deal that took negotiators two years to reach.
Reuters quoted Barnier saying: “Following carefully the political debate in London, this debate is much more now on the future relationship.”
He added: “As I said last week at the EU parliament, if the UK want to be more ambitious, we are ready to be.”
He continued: “It is now for the UK leaders to build a stable and positive majority for a deal. We are waiting for the next steps from the UK government but we are ready to work again on the political declaration.”