Boris Johnson is Ready for Compromise
Mr Johnson has claimed that if the EU agreed changes to the backstop it would not lead to British demands for a wider rewriting of the exit treaty.
British prime minister is therefore ready to accept a range of proposals in the withdrawal treaty — including a £39 billion exit payment and a transition period during which Britain applied EU rules — if he could scrap the backstop.
Although the EU’s official position that the backstop is not open for renegotiation Mr Johnson’s statement creates a promising atmosphere in European capitals.
However, there is still scepticism over whether it is possible to find a viable alternative to the backstop that would ensure an open border in Ireland.
Downing Street has repeatedly referred to “trusted trader schemes” and the use of electronic customs declarations as examples of alternatives to hard border infrastructure. The EU argues such systems do not yet exist or could not replace border checks.
Alternative models include a radically scaled-back backstop where the UK continued to apply some EU rules — such as on animal health — to reduce the need for checks at the border until a new trade deal was agreed.
The Commission said any solution must be “compatible with the withdrawal agreement” — code for avoiding customs and product checks on the Irish border, protecting the all-Ireland economy and safeguarding the peace process.
A UK government spokesperson stated that “the prime minister set out that the UK will be leaving the EU on October 31, whatever the circumstances, and that we absolutely want to do so with a deal. The prime minister was also clear, however, that unless the withdrawal agreement is reopened and the backstop abolished there is no prospect of that deal.”
Mr Johnson “reiterated his commitment to Belfast/Good Friday Agreement in all its parts” and said that the UK “will never place infrastructure, checks, or controls at the border”.