MPs will get a vote on triggering the backstop or extending transition period if no new agreement by end of 2020

MPs will get a vote on triggering the backstop or extending transition period if no new agreement by end of 2020

Prime Minister Theresa May speaking in the House of Commons on Wednesday. Image: Parliament TV

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Prime Minister Theresa May has assured MPs that they would get a vote on triggering the backstop, or extending the implementation period, if there is no new agreement by December 2020.

The Prime Minister told MPs during Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday that she was “looking at how Parliament can take a greater role” as the Government enters the next stage of Brexit negotiations.

Speaking in the House of Commons, Mrs May said: "We’ve been looking at how parliament can take a greater role as we take these negotiations on to the next stage.

“And so I can tell the House that in the event that our future relationship or alternative arrangements are not ready by the end of 2020, parliament will have a vote on whether to seek to extend the implementation period or bring the backstop into effect.

“And the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union will be saying more about this during his opening speech in the forthcoming debate."


'Window dressing' 

The Prime Minister also said that the government had published a package of commitments for Northern Ireland, but the DUP have already rejected these new proposals.

The government had pledged to give the currently defunct Northern Ireland Assembly a "strong role" if the contentious border backstop proposal is ever triggered.

In a paper published on Wednesday outlining a series of commitments specific to the region, the Government said if a wider EU/UK trade deal fails to materialise by the end of the Implementation Period in 2020, there would be a legally-binding commitment to "consult" with Stormont before deciding to either enter the backstop or ask for an extension of the Implementation Period.

DUP Brexit spokesman Sammy Wilson rejected the proposals as "window dressing" because the border backstop would still be in place.

He told Sky News: "The only deal which could swing the DUP round is if the backstop as it applies to the United Kingdom as a whole, or to Northern Ireland specifically, were removed from this agreement.

"Because otherwise the British Government, when it enters negotiations in future trade arrangements, and future relationships with the EU, it is going to find that the backdrop and the background against which that has to be negotiated is we are going to stay in the customs union and the single market."