BORIS Johnson could break the Brexit deadlock if he gets the EU to ditch its red line of no checks on the island of Ireland.
Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay has drawn up three tests the Government must meet before it formally asks to renegotiate the deal — and has passed two of them.
He told a key Cabinet committee this week that solutions have been found to avoid infrastructure on the border with Ireland, and a way to protect the integrity of the EU’s single market.
But there is no solution yet to the third test — to avoid goods checks on the island of Ireland.
As revealed by James Forsyth in his Sun column today, Mr Barclay warned the PM there was no point in presenting any detailed proposals until the EU shifts on the question of checks.
A government source said: “The EU would nuke the proposals and we would be in chaos.”
It means Mr Johnson must convince EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker to move on its red line.
Mr Johnson flies to Luxembourg on Monday to meet him for the first time since becoming PM.
No10 played down breakthrough hopes, saying there was still “a long way to go”.
Today on a visit to Rotherham Mr Johnson said he was “cautiously optimistic” of getting a Brexit deal sorted by October 31.
The PM said the government was working "incredibly hard" and the "rough shape" of a settlement was emerging.
But he cautioned "we will see what we get" from the showdown next, and insisted that "whatever happens" the UK will leave the EU on Halloween.
Irish PM Leo Varadkar also challenged Mr Johnson to win a Commons majority for any new Brexit deal before next month’s crucial EU summit.
He said the EU has major doubts that any compromise from their side would get the approval from MPs so they want to see proof the PM has the numbers before they sign up to a new Brexit deal.
Mr Varadkar told Virgin Media News yesterday: “I certainly believe he would prefer to leave with a deal than without a deal.
What is the Backstop?
- The Irish backstop is essentially a safety net that would prevent a hard border on the island of Ireland after Brexit.
- It is one of the most controversial elements of Theresa May’s Brexit deal and has been a constant stumbling block between No10 and Brussels.
- Under May’s deal, the UK would enter a transition period after officially leaving the EU where it would remain a member of the bloc’s economic zones – namely the single market and the customs union.
- This would give the government time to agree the details of our new trading relationship with Brussels.
- The backstop would come into effect if the transition period ended before all the details of the new relationship had been worked out.
- Northern Ireland would then remain a member of the single market until a trade agreement had been reached to keep the border effectively invisible.
- That would mean goods crossing the Irish border would not be subject to checks for customs or product standards.
- The whole of the UK would also remain in a common customs territory with the EU, meaning there would be no "tariffs, quotas, rules of origin or customs processes" applied to UK-EU trade.
- The arrangement would keep the Northern Irish border open, but would mean the UK would temporarily have to go on following the EU's rules and regulations without having a say in deciding them.
"But the difficulty is: I’m not sure that he will be able to make the compromises that are necessary to secure a deal.
“We saw how difficult that was for prime minister May, the compromises she had to make, we had to make compromises too.
"And ultimately she was unable to get that deal through the House of Commons. The numbers for Boris Johnson are even tougher.”
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