Brexiteer MP Priti Patel has said that Theresa May cannot “dance around the backstop” and should come up with a solution.
After the Irish taoiseach Leo Varadkar said there may need to be a new agreement between Ireland and the UK to ensure no hard border, Ms Patel said the suggestion had come “a bit late in the day”, but that the Prime Minister should listen to Brexiteer MPs’ suggestions for resolving the issue.
“Before we go into the weekend, the government has to be very clear in terms of its position for next week - not just the alternative plans, but how it’s going to address this backstop,” said Ms Patel. “We’ve heard so much, and I think it’s lip service.
“The government says she recognises the issues over the backstop, but what is she going to do? Open up the withdrawal agreement, ditch the backstop, or resolve some very serious issues around it?”
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MPs keen to leave the EU have been putting forward alternative options, she said.
“From my perspective, and other Brexiteers, we’ve have put forward alternatives.
“We’ve put forward a protocol option she could look at, and we want to go back to the Tusk offer of March 2018, where we could table the text of the free trade agreement and replace the backstop with an Irish border protocol.”
Ms Patel was referring to a letter sent by Theresa May to European Council president Donald Tusk, in which she said that if the Irish border issue could not be resolved by the legal text in the Withdrawal Agreement itself, there would need to be “additional specific solutions” discussed and added.
'Focus should be on making Brexit happen'
On the government’s discussions around the backstop, Ms Patel called for more transparency, and for action.
“There are some questions our government need to answer as well,” she said.
“Who have they been talking to? Have they actually been pushing this with the European Commission? Or is it a case of, ‘we had one phone conversation and computer says no and we’re not going to push it?’
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“The government’s got to be serious and genuine, rather than just saying we know there’s a problem.”
She also said that amendments tabled by other MPs were “efforts are to thwart Brexit and stop it from happening”.
“The focus should be on making sure Brexit happens,” she added.