Brexit Withdrawal Agreement: Anne Main questions the Prime Minister on the process of leaving the Northern Ireland backstop

26th November 2018

Following the Prime Minister’s statement on the negotiations to leave the European Union, Anne Main questions the PM about the process for leaving the backstop, should it come into operation, and who is the final arbiter on if the required criteria have been met.

In her answer to the right hon. Member for Birkenhead (Frank Field), my right hon. Friend said that we can leave the backstop if it can be “shown” that we have met the criteria. Who will be the arbiter of when it is “shown”, and to whom are we accountable to make sure that they will allow us to leave?

The initial discussion, of course, takes place between the two parties of the United Kingdom and the European Union, but there is a process that goes through the Joint Committee of the two bodies, and there is also an arbitration panel and an arbitration process that can be brought into operation in relation to that. Throughout the withdrawal agreement, in various elements, there are references to the good faith on both sides. If it is the case that the commitment to Northern Ireland has been met, it will be clear that we can come out of the backstop—were it the backstop that had been put in place in the first place.

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