Belfast Telegraph

Belfast Telegraph readers vote to bin Brexit backstop

A Belfast Telegraph poll has found that readers are narrowly against the Brexit backstop.

Our unscientific Facebook poll asked readers to vote on if they were for or against the backstop.

Over 4,600 people have taken part in the vote with 53% saying they were against the backstop and 47% voting in favour of keeping it.

The controversial backstop proposal is intended to prevent a hard border on the island of Ireland.

It has become a sticking point of the Brexit negotiations with hardline Conservatives and the DUP opposing the plan, which led to the defeat of Prime Minister Theresa May's withdrawal agreement in the House of Commons last month.

The DUP has said that they believe the backstop plan would create a trade border in the Irish Sea and could leave Northern Ireland tied to the EU indenfinetly.

It would only come into effect if a trade deal has not been reached between the EU and UK during the 21-month Brexit transition period.

Under the plan the UK would effectively remain inside the EU's customs union with Northern Ireland retaining some elements of the EU single market until a deal is reached.

The Irish Government and EU have remained steadfast in their view that the backstop is the best way of preventing a hard border in Ireland.

MPs voted to replace the backstop with "alternative arrangements" in the House of Commons last week, with Prime Minister Theresa May returning to Brussels on Thursday in an attempt to renegotiate her deal.

Mrs May described discussions with EU leaders in Brussels as “robust but constructive” and insisted she was determined to “negotiate hard” over the coming days to secure legally-binding changes to the Agreement

However, European Council president Donald Tusk said there was “no breakthrough in sight” in the negotiations.

Mrs May set out MPs’ demands for a “legally binding change to the terms of the backstop”, while European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker “underlined that the EU27 will not reopen the Withdrawal Agreement”.

But he “expressed his openness to add wording to the Political Declaration” to be “more ambitious in terms of content and speed when it comes to the future relationship”.

The Prime Minister said that “my work is to deliver Brexit, to deliver it on time and I am going to be negotiating hard in the coming days to do just that” ahead of the UK leaving the EU on March 29.

Mrs May will meet Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in Dublin on Friday to discuss the withdrawal deal.

You can still vote in our poll here.

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