The UK Chamber of Shipping has become the first major business group to come and officially call for the backstop to be binned this morning, after Guido exclusively revealed on Friday that a major industry group was planning an intervention this week. Writing in The Times, Chief Executive Bob Sanguinetti says “the government and the EU must agree to reopen negotiations and remove, or at least introduce a time limit for, the Irish backstop.” He adds: “This is the only way the withdrawal agreement can succeed.”
Sanguinetti also rebuts the idea that the EU will never agree to this, highlighting Michel Barnier’s comments from last week where he undermined the whole rationale for the backstop:
Those who criticise the idea of amending the backstop will rightly question whether the EU would agree to it. However, it won’t have escaped the notice of many in the business community when, last week, Michel Barnier said that “we will have to find an operational way of carrying our checks and controls without putting back in place a border”.
He went on to say his team had studied how customs procedures and controls “could be made paperless or decentralised, which would be useful in all circumstances”. He was referring to Ireland but observers will remember how he dismissed these very same proposals when they were proposed by Britain.
It appears then that there is common ground after all. And maybe — just maybe — a sensible resolution can be found. If parliament is able to unite around this key demand it will put tremendous pressure on the EU to agree.
He is right – momentum is shifting against the backstop and the EU will not be able to carry on like it’s business as usual if Graham Brady’s amendment is passed tomorrow. The real reason why the EU won’t budge yet is because they’re still holding out hope that the Brexit-wreckers can derail the whole thing…