Brexit: Lord Trimble backs changes in backstop

Former Northern Ireland first minister Lord Trimble has said “substantive changes” have been made to limit the impact of the backstop in the Brexit deal.

Monday, 18th March 2019, 5:30 am
Lord Trimble said the chances of Theresa May's deal getting through the House of Commons have improved

The peer, who has previously threatened to seek a judicial review of the Irish backstop, and historian Lord Bew said the government was now looking seriously at technological alternatives to the measure in the Brexit deal designed to prevent a hard border.

The peers also said there was an acknowledgement that there are circumstances in which the backstop could “undercut” the Good Friday Agreement rather than protect it.

Former Ulster Unionist Party leader Lord Trimble, now a Tory peer, won the Nobel Peace Prize for his role in securing the Good Friday Agreement.

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MPs rejected the revised package by 149 votes last week but the peers said the changes secured with the EU had improved its chances of getting through Parliament, in part because of “widespread war weariness on all sides”.

In a paper for the centre-right Policy Exchange think tank they said: “Not a word of Mrs (Theresa) May’s Withdrawal Agreement of November 2018, so heavily defeated twice in Parliament, has been changed.

“But we are now closer to acceptance of the same agreement.

“A widespread war weariness on all sides is a significant factor.

“But the government has succeeded in securing substantive changes that will affect and limit the impact of the Irish backstop, if it is ever put in place at the end of the transitional period.

“The chances of the prime minister getting the deal through Parliament have improved.”