Alternative Arrangements WG established

Theresa May has appointed three hardline Brexiteers to an official working group charged with finding “alternative arrangements” to replace the Northern Ireland backstop.

Brexiteers Steve Baker, Owen Patterson and Marcus Fysh will join Remainer former ministers Damian Green and Nicky Morgan in the working group which will meet for the first time on Monday.

“The government is establishing an Alternative Arrangements Working Group which will hold regular meetings with Steve Barclay, the secretary of state for exiting the EU. Officials from HMRC, Cabinet Office Europe Unit, Number 10 and other relevant departments will support this, and ministers will be able to commission advice from them,” Downing Street said in a statement on Sunday night.

Home secretary Sajid Javid said attorney general Geoffrey Cox would lead the government’s effort to secure a unilateral exit mechanism or a time limit to the backstop. The EU has ruled out both of those options and stated that adequate technological solutions to keep the Border open have not been developed. 

Mr Javid said that Britain’s border control agency told him existing technology could avert the need for a hard Border.

“I asked Border Force months ago to advise me, to look at what alternative arrangements are possible, and they’ve shown me quite clearly you can have no hard border on the island of Ireland and you can use existing technology. It’s perfectly possible. The only thing that’s missing is a bit of goodwill on the EU side,” he said.

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