Belfast Telegraph

Withdrawal Agreement not open for re-negotiation: Irish Government

But the Irish Government said changes could be made to the Political Declaration on the future relationship

The Irish Government has said the Withdrawal Agreement is not open for negotiation (Brian Lawless/PA)
The Irish Government has said the Withdrawal Agreement is not open for negotiation (Brian Lawless/PA)

The Irish Government has said the UK’s Brexit Withdrawal Agreement is not open for re-negotiation.

The government in Dublin reiterated its stance that the ratification of the deal was the best way to ensure an orderly withdrawal of the UK from the EU.

In a statement, the Irish government said: “The EU position on the Withdrawal Agreement, including the backstop, is set out in the conclusions of the December meeting of the European Council. It has not changed.

“The Withdrawal Agreement is not open for re-negotiation.”

The statement was issued after MPs in Westminster voted to give Theresa May their backing for her to go back to Brussels to seek changes to the Withdrawal Agreement with the aim of replacing the controversial backstop with unspecified “alternative arrangements”.

Irish premier Leo Varadkar is expected to speak with Mrs May on Wednesday to discuss the outcome of the vote.

The statement added: “The agreement is a carefully negotiated compromise, which balances the UK position on customs and the single market with avoiding a hard border and protecting the integrity of the EU customs union and single market.

“The best way to ensure an orderly withdrawal is to ratify this agreement.”

The statement also said that changes could be made to the Political Declaration on the future relationship between the EU and the UK, if the UK was willing to change its red lines.

“A change in the UK red lines could lead to a change in the Political Declaration on the framework for the future relationship, and a better overall outcome,” the statement read.

But the Irish government added that it would be continuing with its contingency planning for all eventualities, including for a no-deal scenario.

Ireland’s deputy premier said the backstop remains a “necessary” insurance policy to avoid a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland.

In a tweet following the outcome of the voting in the UK parliament, Simon Coveney said: “Backstop was agreed by UK/EU as the insurance policy to avoid a hard border in all scenarios.

“We hope it will never be used, or be replaced quickly by a future relationship agreement. But it is necessary and tonight’s developments at Westminster do nothing to change this. #Brexit”

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