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Government inquiry to look at solutions to avoid Northern Ireland Brexit backstop



The backstop is intended to prevent a hard border in Ireland.

The backstop is intended to prevent a hard border in Ireland.

The backstop is intended to prevent a hard border in Ireland.

The Northern Ireland Affairs Committee has launched an inquiry into the implications of Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit deal for Northern Ireland.

The inquiry will focus on mechanisms for avoiding the Northern Ireland Brexit backstop, which has become a barrier to getting Mrs May's deal through Parliament.

If the backstop is implemented Northern Ireland will remain aligned with EU rules and remain part of the single market with checks on some goods coming in from the UK.

The backstop would be implemented if a trade deals cannot be reached by the EU and UK Government during the 21 month Brexit transition period after the UK leaves the EU on March 29.

It is intended to prevent a hard border on the island of Ireland.

Mrs May postponed the scheduled vote on her Brexit deal on Tuesday December 11 as she accepted it would be defeated due to concerns around the backstop.

She travelled to Brussels last week for an EU Summit in an attempt to secure reassurances from EU leaders about the backstop.

The Northern Ireland Affairs Committee will also examine the level of Northern Ireland's planning for a no-deal Brexit.

The committee has asked for written evidence on four separate issues arising from Mrs May's agreement:

  • How implementation of the backstop would work in practice for Northern Ireland
  • Scrutiny of the mechanisms in the Withdrawal Agreement which govern implementation of the backstop
  • What steps need to be taken during the implementation period to secure an overall EU-UK deal which removes the need for the backstop
  • Northern Ireland’s preparedness for a no deal Brexit

Chair of the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee Dr Andrew Murrison MP said concerns remained around the backstop.

"“The backstop has emerged as a central concern in the Government’s Brexit agreement and uncertainties remain about the effectiveness of no-deal planning," Dr Murrison said.

"My Committee’s inquiry will explore the implications of the agreement for Northern Ireland.”

The deadline for written submissions to the committee will be 5pm on Monday January 21.

Belfast Telegraph