Alliance Brexit spokesperson Stephen Farry MLA has said the latest UK Government proposals on Brexit are an exercise in smoke and mirrors.
He was speaking after the plans, which followed a Cabinet away day at Chequers, were set out in a communique. While fuller details are expected to be laid out in coming days, Dr Farry expressed his scepticism at their viability, adding the Government should clarify its position on the Brexit backstop it had previously signed up to.
“This is less of a breakthrough than an exercise in smoke and mirrors. The outcome yet again seems to be an attempt to hold together the Conservatives rather than providing a viable and coherent negotiating position.
“While we await fuller details, the plans around the so-called facilitated customs arrangement would be cumbersome, bureaucratic and would stifle economic activity. The proposals for alignment on goods only are also at odds with the UK’s own economic interests and constitute a cherry-picking of the single market which something which the EU has been consistently clear in ruling out for the UK as a whole.
“With the clock ticking, more and more time is being wasted, placing in jeopardy the withdrawal agreement and the transition deal, with the prospect looming of a catastrophic no deal outcome. The Government needs to get real and think again.
“The Chequers communique is also vague on the subject of the Ireland-Northern Ireland backstop. While the Government may be adamant their proposed future relationship model would avoid any need for it, the backstop the Government agreed to in December 2017 nevertheless must be translated into legal text in the withdrawal agreement.
“The backstop does need to be viewed in pragmatic and practical terms. It is an insurance policy arising from the UK’s decision to leave the EU and the necessity of ensuring an open border between Ireland and Northern Ireland. It builds on existing precedents and is consistent the principle of consent. While not perfect, it is a foundation on which to build a future relationship based around bridges not borders.”