Brexit: Theresa May secures “legally binding” committment from EU over Irish backstop
British Prime Minister Theresa May says she has secured a “legally binding” commitment from the European Union that an alternative arrangement to the Irish backstop will be agreed upon by 2020.
The Irish backstop is essentially an insurance policy that will allow Northern Ireland to remain in the EU Customs Union indefinitely.
The backstop is designed to prevent a return to a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, which experts and locals alike warn could be detrimental to inter-Irish relations.
Just 17 days before the UK is set to leave the EU, Prime Minister May rushed to Strasbourg to meet with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker in a last minute bid to secure a Brexit plan that will pass Parliament.
According to Ms May, the legal assurances address the concerns of MPs who historically rejected her deal back in January partly because of the backstop’s indefinite nature.
“Today we have secured legal changes,” Ms May said in a late night press conference.
“Now is the time to come together to back this improved Brexit deal and to deliver on the instruction of the British people.”
It is unclear if the altered deal will pass Tuesday’s (local time) vote, however, Mr Juncker was absolute that there would be no further renegotiation if it failed.
“There will be no third chance,” he said.
“There will be no further interpretations of the interpretations; no further assurances of the re-assurances — if the meaningful vote tomorrow fails.
“It is this deal or Brexit might not happen at all.”
As the clock counts down to March 29, an array of scenarios have made their way into public discourse, incuding a delay, a last-minute deal, a no-deal Brexit, a snap election and even another referendum.
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