After the discussions in Brussels last Thursday, the Brexit ministry of the United Kingdom said that the focus of negotiations was now on getting new guarantees on the temporary nature of the Irish backstop.
In a statement after the meeting of Attorney General Geoffrey Cox and Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay with Michel Barnier, the EU negotiator, the ministry gave a clear indication that Theresa May, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, was no longer pushing to reopen the Withdrawal Agreement, even if that is still considered as the preferred option of the government.
The ministry stated: “The simplest way to get legally binding changes on the backstop is to reopen the Withdrawal Agreement. That remains the Government’s position.”
However, it went on referring to the discussions last Wednesday between PM May and Jean-Claude Juncker, the President of the European Commission. He stated: “The Prime Minister and President Juncker agreed that work would now focus on guarantees relating to the backstop that underline once again its temporary nature and give appropriate legal assurance to both sides, as well as alternative arrangements and the political declaration, to reach a mutually acceptable agreement.”