Irish PM’s position could mean UK being tied to EU customs union in long term
'Ireland’s prime minister has told Theresa May in a hastily arranged phone call that he cannot allow the UK to unilaterally decide when to terminate the Irish backstop, creating the possibility that Britain could be in a customs union with the EU for the long term.
Leo Varadkar’s office released a statement after May called him on Monday morning in which he said while Ireland was open to the possibility of “a review mechanism” for the backstop, the UK could not solely determine how to use it.
“The prime minister raised the possibility of a review mechanism for the backstop,” it said.
“The taoiseach [prime minister] indicated an openness to consider proposals for a review, provided that it was clear that the outcome of any such review could not involve a unilateral decision to end the backstop. He recalled the prior commitments made that the backstop must apply ‘unless and until’ alternative arrangements are agreed.”
Downing Street confirmed the call had taken place “to take stock of the progress being made in the negotiations”, and the two leaders had discussed the outstanding issues in the Brexit talks.
A No 10 spokesman said the British and Irish leaders had agreed the backstop would be “a temporary arrangement”, but May had emphasised that there would need to be “a mechanism through which the backstop could be brought to an end”.
The UK statement did not refer to the Irish position that the mechanism could not involve a unilateral decision to end the backstop.'
Read more: Ireland cannot let UK decide when Brexit backstop ends, says Varadkar