Ireland’s European Affairs minister has denied that the current Brexit deal is dead.
Ruling out a time limit on the backstop, Fine Gael’s Helen McEntee said the only way of avoiding a no-deal Brexit is by the UK backing the Withdrawal Agreement.
The European Affairs Minister made the comments as she toured the An Post Mail Centre in Portlaoise where she was given details on how the service is planning for a no-deal Brexit.
On Sunday Fine Gael’s former Europe Minister Lucinda Creighton said there must be a “compromise” on the controversial backstop and called for a five-year time limit on the backstop to avoid economic devastation.
She made the comments in the Sunday Business Post.
Ms McEntee was asked about her comments and whether Ireland and the EU should offer a time limit.
“A backstop with a time limit ceases to be a backstop, and it exists as an insurance mechanism,” she said.
“It’s there based on the fact that the UK have decided to leave the EU, it’s based on the fact that they have laid down red lines that they’re leaving the Single Market and the Customs Union.
“It’s based on the commitments that they have made to protect the Good Friday Agreement, to protect the invisible border, but also to protect the all island economy.
“We have always said if there are other options, if there are other ways to deal with all of those commitments and to address all of our concerns, then we’re very willing to listen to them.”
Ms McEntee accused Boris Johnson of trying to replace the backstop with only a commitment to “find some other solutions”.
Referring to the Prime Minister’s letter to European Council President Donald Tusk in which he asked for the backstop to be dropped, Ms McEntee said: “We’ve heard certain proposals which have already been looked at by the UK and the EU together over the past two and a half years.
“They’re not going to do the work that the backstop currently does.
“So for us again, a time time limit on the backstop essentially removes the backstop because an insurance mechanism with a time limit on it ceases to be an insurance policy.”
Asked if she thinks the Withdrawal Agreement in its current form is dead, Ms McEntee said: “I don’t accept that, the (UK) said themselves in a no-deal scenario they would want to engage very quickly with the EU.
“We need to try and re-establish engagement, we’re certainly glad to see Boris Johnson has made a number of visits this week.
“But obviously with less than 10 weeks to go, the only people that can take a no-deal off the table is the UK.”