Those who oppose the backstop but do not propose realistic alternatives really support the re-establishment of a border with Northern Ireland, European Council President Donald Tusk said on Tuesday in response to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
Johnson sent a letter on Monday to Tusk reasserting his will to conclude a Brexit agreement and his opposition to the backstop, a safety net contained in the Brexit deal concluded with the government of Johnson’s predecessor, Theresa May. Under the backstop, the United Kingdom would remain in the Customs Union if there is no better solution after a two-year transition period, so as to avoid the establishment of a border between the British province of Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
Boris Johnson, who took over from Theresa May in July after the British parliament thrice rejected her Brexit deal, has said he is ready to leave the EU with or without a new deal by the scheduled deadline of 31 October.
In his letter, he said his government would work with energy and determination on finding an agreement, describing this as “our highest priority”, but reiterated his rejection of the backstop, dubbing it “antidemocratic” and against the sovereignty of the British State. He also charged that remaining in the Customs Union would prevent Britain from conducting a trade policy independent of EU rules.
“The backstop is an insurance to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland unless and until an alternative is found,” Mr. Tusk replied on Tuesday on Twitter. “Those against the backstop and not proposing realistic alternatives in fact support re-establishing a border. Even if they do not admit it.”
The EU said through a spokesperson that it welcomed the commitment of the British Government in favour of an orderly withdrawal, as expressed in Johnson’s letter. However, it noted that the letter offered no legislative solution to a avoid a return to a hard border.
The EU has often repeated that it is not ready to renegotiate the deal concluded with Mrs. May. However, time is going, and Johnson will be travelling on Wednesday to Berlin, then on Thursday to Paris to meet German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron and try and convince them of his vision of Brexit ahead of this weekend’s G7 summit in Biarritz.
While the British parliament rejected the Brexit deal, it has also come out against crashing out of the EU without an agreement. Nor is there unanimity in Johnson’s Conservative Party over a hard Brexit.
The Labour Party opposition has already announced that it will try to bring the government down when parliament reconvenes on 3 September.