Brexit: Barnier questions May's 'backstop plan'" width="976" height="549">
The UK's proposal to avoid a hard Irish border "raises more questions than it answers", says the EU's chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier.Theresa May came up with the plan for a time-limited "backstop" if a trade deal is not in place by 2021.Mr Barnier said he would examine the proposal "objectively".But he said the EU's preferred option would work better and the UK could not take an "a la carte" approach to the EU single market.Mr Barnier welcomed the publication of the paper by the UK - which came after a row in cabinet in which Brexit Secretary David Davis reportedly threatened to resign - and said he would measure it against three tests.
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The tests involved whether it was a "workable solution" to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland, whether it respected the integrity of the single market and customs union and was it an "all weather backstop".The EU has offered a different "backstop" proposal - that Northern Ireland remain aligned with EU rules for a period - which the UK has rejected, saying it would effectively create a border between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK. Mrs May's proposal would involve the whole of the UK, matching EU trade tariffs for a period instead.But Mr Barnier said: "Let me be clear: our backstop cannot be extended to the whole UK. WhyHe added: "Let's go back to pragmatism. Checks carried out on ferries are less disruptive than along a 500km-long land border. In addition, these checks can build on arrangements and facilities which already exist between the rest of the UK and Northern Ireland."
Michel Barnier
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