Brexit Backstop Does Not Need Specific Time Limit, Says Dominic Raab

Ned Simons

The British Government is willing to accept a Brexit backstop plan with no time limit, Dominic Raab has said.

Pro-Brexit Tory MPs have demanded that any backstop must have a specific end date.

But the Brexit secretary appeared to conceded this morning the EU may never agree to a time limit.

It comes amid increased chatter in Westminster that Theresa May’s position as prime minister is under threat from her own side.

Asked about the backstop on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, Raan said: “It could be time limited, there could be another mechanism.

“There needs to be something which allows us to control how long we are there for to avoid any sense that we are left indefinitely in a sort of customs union limbo. That wouldn’t be acceptable.”

His intervention was echoed by Brexit minister Suella Braverman who made a similar comment earlier this morning. 

“We need a date or a very clear mechanism or clause in this agreement which enables us to get out of it,” she told Sky News.

The backstop is the safety net plan for how to avoid a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland should the EU and UK be unable to agree a trade deal that solves the problem long term.

Brussels’ backstop plan would see Northern Ireland remain in the customs union.

The British government has said this would be unacceptable as it would create a customs border between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.

Instead, May has proposed keeping the entire UK inside the customs union until a deal is done.

But this version has been rejected by the EU as Brussels argues it would undermine the integrity of the single market.

Raab told Marr this morning there were “various ideas floated around in Brussels” about how to reach an agreement despite the apparent impasse.

He also said the government would be willing to extend the transition period by “three months” or so if it helped secure a deal.

Extending the transition period, which is due to begin when the UK leaves the EU in March 2019 until the end of December 2020, has also been savaged by Tory MPs.

France’s Europe minister Nathalie Loiseau told the same programme it was up to the UK to suggest a solution.

She said the EU could not accept “temporary measures which disappear and we don’t know what to do after”.

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