Guido can reveal that at least one major industry group is planning to come out early next week and call for the backstop to be scrapped or substantially amended to include a short time limit. The industry is closely linked to Brexit issues and the business group which represents it is intending to call for negotiations on the backstop to be reopened in order to get a “sensible resolution” to the Brexit process.
An industry insider told Guido:
“The withdrawal agreement without the backstop would be a good negotiating result for the U.K. It delivers the Brexit that many Leavers want, and is the only way to guarantee No Deal is taken off the table. So the removal of the backstop could be the cause that finally unites Parliament. Barnier and the Commission have accidentally shown they agreed with David Davis all along. There does not have to be a hard physical border with Ireland, and Max Fac is not ‘wishful thinking’ but a common sense approach. This is the best chance all sides have to a sensible resolution.”
After the EU’s torrid week where they fatally undermined their own rationale for needing the backstop at all, this is looking like an increasingly viable path to a workable deal. Jacob Rees-Mogg and Boris have hinted that they might be prepared to come round to the deal if the backstop was substantially altered or removed, and it has been the DUP’s main demand for months.
Significantly, Tory backbench chief Sir Graham Brady tabled a new amendment last night with the backing of Remainer May ally Damian Green, Andrew Murrison and all the officers of the 1922 Committee, which:
“requires the Northern Ireland backstop to be replaced with alternative arrangements to avoid a hard border; supports leaving the European Union with a deal and would therefore support the Withdrawal Agreement subject to this change.”
There will no doubt be plenty of huffing and puffing from the EU side about how changes aren’t possible, but if this amended deal is approved by the House of Commons, the EU will inevitably come under serious pressure to modify its own position. This could finally be the route that gets the UK out of the exit door on time…