Skip to main content

Opposition questions Government on legally binding backstop changes

19 February 2019 (updated on 19 February 2019)

Image of UK Parliament portcullis

Shadow Security Minister and Shadow Solicitor General, Nick Thomas-Symonds, asked an urgent question on legally binding changes to the Northern Ireland backstop arrangement.

The backstop is part of the EU Withdrawal Agreement. It is a guarantee that whatever happens during the negotiations between the EU and UK on the future relationship, the open border between Ireland and Northern Ireland will be maintained, and the Good Friday Agreement respected.

The backstop also provides for a UK-wide customs union with the EU, covering all goods (except for fish). This is controversial with some MPs and the House of Commons voted in January for the Government to consider 'alternative arrangements' to the backstop.

The Solicitor General at the Attorney General's Office, Robert Buckland, responded to the question and stated:

"..On the 12th February, the Prime Minister set out ways in which legally binding changes to the backstop could be achieved. The Prime Minister explained the UK and the EU would hold further talks to find a way forward. These discussions are ongoing. It would not be appropriate to provide a running commentary."

Nick Thomas-Symonds, replied to the Solicitor General and said "...the reality is there are 38 days until we leave the EU. In all likelihood 8 days until the next round of voting and we are nowhere nearer having any further clarity on this issue. And all the time our economy, our jobs and our futures are affected by this uncertainty." 

Image: iStock

Follow the @HouseofCommons on Twitter for updates on the UK House of Commons Chamber.

Please fill in our quick feedback survey to help us improve our news content.