Re the 60-page explanatory presentation on the draft Withdrawal Agreement published by the European Commission:
In theory this detailed EU slideshow is intended to sway the public and MPs to the merits of the draft withdrawal agreement.
In practice it underlines the threat the proposed backstop poses to our economy and to the constitutional integrity of the United Kingdom.
Page 46 highlights that Northern Ireland will ‘maintain specific regulatory alignment with the EU’ and the EU’s Customs Code ‘will continue to apply.’
Page 47 warns that ‘there would be a need for checks on goods travelling from the rest of the UK to Northern Ireland.’ These checks, at our ports and airports, would be ‘systematic.’
In return there is no mention of democratic representation for the people of Northern Ireland.
Collectively this spells out what Parliament and the public know already. The backstop would create barriers and generate disruption within the UK internal market from day one.
Our region would be aligned to EU laws, perhaps indefinitely, with no influence whatsoever in how they are made. The UK would have no unilateral right to leave and there would be no time-limit to these arrangements.
This is not a fair deal, nor one which is in the best interests of the United Kingdom. It doesn’t deliver the result of the referendum.
Despite the overwhelming rejection of the draft Brexit deal by MPs, this report highlights that EU leaders have buried their head in the sand.
They hope that it can be ratified without substantive and legally-binding changes that address the backstop. Eventually that strategy will run out of track.
It is time to change direction before it is too late. It is time to work for a better deal. A deliverable deal which builds on the aspects of the draft treaty that we can all agree are positive whilst addressing genuine concerns over the Irish border in a pragmatic way.
That should be our collective vision in the days ahead.
Diane Dodds, DUP MEP