, 17 tweets, 5 min read Read on Twitter
Amid reports that #UK PM @theresa_may hopes to renegotiate the "backstop" provision on the Northern Ireland border, let's recall that she already made clear what she wants in her letter to #EU leaders before disastrously losing the #Brexit Withdrawal Treaty ratification vote. 1/
"This could be mitigated by changes to the backstop itself," she wrote to @eucopresident & @JunckerEU "Proposals for a way in which the UK could choose to exit the backstop unilaterally were it ever to come into force, or for a hard time limit... 2/
on the duration of the usage of the backstop, have been raised and discussed in Parliament. We have also raised them previously in negotiations." So there are her proposals, i.e. the EU should basically just cave on backstop in face of House of Commons defeat. But but but ... 3/
In the letter, May herself then explains why this won't happen beginning with a very curious & cryptic line: "These did not come from a desire to impose border controls, or an irresponsibility for finding solutions." 4/
First part of that sentence is flat admission that withdrawing from backstop would require border controls i.e. would recreate a border btw Northern Ireland & Ireland. That would violate Belfast/Good Friday Agreement & is precisely what backstop provision exists to prevent. 5/
The second part of that sentence is flat admission that #UK couldn't find any solution to the logical problem cited by #EU. If it's not irresponsibility, it is in fact utter denial of reality. 6/
To avoid recreation of a border requires a "solution" of some sort. EU proposed one, which UK rejected. EU then agreed to all-UK customs backstop developed in negotiations and put in Withdrawal Treaty. Those are two solutions both rejected by British side with no alternative. 7/
This is why Irish Foreign Minister on Sunday already rejected the idea of renegotiation politico.eu/article/irelan… 8/
In letter, May insists UK's proposals "came from a concern to maintain an equal pressure on both sides to develop the future relationship." Here, she miscalculates. EU27 never viewed negotiation as equal & never will. Position is: UK decided to leave, so more pressure on UK. 9/
Finally, in letter May says whole point of pushing for future relationship is to "place a solution to the border on a permanent footing." Again in EU view, that's the point of a backstop- to prevent a border under all circumstances even delay/absence of future relationship 10/
So unless the "Plan B" May presents to British Parliament includes what she acknowledges is a necessary "solution" for the border, her request to renegotiate will go nowhere. Pressure is & will remain on UK. 11/
Reworking Belfast/Good Friday Agreement isn't a "solution" because problem isn't there but in EU treaties re: functioning of single market, freedom of movement etc & basic intl law governing trade between nations w/ sovereign customs/tax regimes as UK demands for self 12/
Reminder: the backstop is needed because UK set red lines in negotiations allowing only for a future relationship built on a free trade agreement. Other models were possible, May & her govt rejected them in favor of this. EU has repeatedly invited her to change red lines 13/
EU27 had high hopes House of Commons defeat would finally prompt May to seek cross-party consensus (i.e.: redraw Tory red lines to win a majority in favor of a softer Brexit. In EU view, unilateral withdrawal or hard time limit render backstop pointless. 14/
Who's right/wrong is not issue here. EU also denies reality calling Withdrawal Treaty "best deal." If can't get ratified, it's not best. But May's proposal for time-limited backstop or unilateral stop have zero chance ratification by EU27 b/c it threatens single market 15/
Backstop actually not the issue. Mays says Parliament fears backstop gives EU undue leverage to negotiate future. But real problem is UK has never found own national consensus on what it wants from that negotiation. This chaotic indecision has given EU leverage all along. 16/
Best (possibly only) way for #UK to pressure EU on future relationship would be to show cross-party consensus on path forward, taking away possibility that new govt & new PM would reverse course. 17/17
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