Swire amendment will not reassure DUP or Brexiteers

Sir Hugo Swire MP, pictured in Belfast in 2012 when he was a Northern Ireland Office minister. Photo Matt Mackey/presseye.com
Sir Hugo Swire MP, pictured in Belfast in 2012 when he was a Northern Ireland Office minister. Photo Matt Mackey/presseye.com

The amendment by Sir Hugo Swire MP, which subjects the backstop to a number of new conditions, proposes a parliamentary veto over extending the transition period, or starting the post-transition backstop.

This directly contradicts the Withdrawal Agreement and will be rejected by the EU.

Letter to the editor

Letter to the editor

The proposal by Sir Hugh, a former Northern Ireland Office minister, pictured, that an alternative to the backstop be implemented within 12 months of the end of the transition also adds a constraint to the Withdrawal Agreement which amounts to a renegotiation that the EU have clearly ruled out.

In as far as his amendment is intended to reassure the DUP or Tory Brexiteers it is far from obvious why these groups will be in any way reassured. The proposal to consider the views of the NI Executive and Assembly amounts to nothing much even if there were such institutions which of course there are not.

Swire’s tactic seems to be that after the failure of the WA in parliament next Tuesday the PM will need to go back to Brussels for a renegotiation and at this point the EU may possibly agree some of the points in the Swire amendment.

Allowing parliament to prevent the start of the backstop provides a completely unpredictable situation even if the EU were to accept it. Parliament is likely to reject the backstop the on Tuesday, so giving them a chance to reject it later in the process looks like merely playing for time.

The condition that the backstop be replaced within 12 months means little since any replacement is likely to be as bad as or worse than the backstop as far as brexiteers are concerned.

This resolution will die when the WA is voted down next Tuesday but it does perhaps provide guidance on the route the Government may take in trying to renegotiate with the EU after Tuesday,

Graham Gudgin, Cambridge