London asks the EU for “flexibility” by postponing the debate on the ‘backstop’ to the transition phase

British minister for Brexit, Stephen Barclay, intervenes during the Europa Press Informational Breakfasts in Madrid on Thursday, September 19, 2019 – Eduardo Parra – Europa Press

Barclay advocates an agreement and rules out that the Government asks for a third extension of Brexit: “We do not consider it an option”

The British minister for Brexit, Stephen Barclay, has requested “flexibility” and “creativity” from the European Union to be able to finalize an exit agreement before the deadline of October 31, for which he has raised the possibility of eliminating the safeguard contemplated for the Irish border and to postpone the debate on this issue to the transition phase, which with the current deadlines would conclude in December 2020.

London asks the EU for “flexibility” by postponing the debate on the ‘backstop’ to the transition phase
London asks the EU for “flexibility” by postponing the debate on the ‘backstop’ to the transition phase

Barclay, who has participated in an informative breakfast from Europa Press, has come to Madrid with the “clear” message that London “wants there to be agreement.” In this sense, although he has admitted that “there is little time left”, he has considered that these little more than 40 days are “sufficient” if both parties show will.

To this end, he has asked the European side to take into account “the political reality in the United Kingdom” and that the Withdrawal Agreement negotiated at the time by the Government of Theresa May has already been rejected three times by the House of Commons . Barclay has insisted that it is necessary that the safeguard with which you want to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland has to “disappear.”

The minister has criticized the 'backstop' – as this emergency plan is known in community jargon – for being a “permanent” measure, as it does not include a potential elimination date in case London and Brussels reach the end of the transition phase without having made any plan to avoid its application.

The British Government has repeatedly stressed that it is not favorable to the permanence of the United Kingdom in the customs union and the single market and, through Barclays, has lamented the current stalemate in the negotiations. For this reason, it has offered the EU to withdraw the 'backstop' of the current texts, understanding that “it is not necessary” in the short term.

“Why risk materializing it before October 31 when we can work together on this issue until December 2020?” Barclays has raised, under a premise that in principle has been rejected by European negotiators for considering that, without that guarantee, There is a possibility that there will be a 'hard border' at the end of the transition phase.


The European Commission has assured that it is up to London to present a viable alternative to the 'backstop' and other reluctance that it may have on the current Withdrawal Agreement, but Barclay has stressed that “both parties are responsible for reaching a solution.” The United Kingdom wants “a negotiating partner that is also flexible” when it comes to proposing its proposals, since it believes that “the European Commission does not want to take any risks”.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has warned that he would rather be “dead in a ditch” rather than request a new extension, to which he would theoretically be bound by a new law with which government critics want to avoid a Brexit chaotic.

Barclay has also suggested that the Executive does not consider requesting that third extension for now: “If we did not leave on October 31, the main legislative mandate we have had would be ignored.” “It is not an option for our country,” he added, under the premise already stated by Johnson that the United Kingdom wants an agreement but is willing to break the braves with the community bloc.

Barclay has indicated that it would be “harmful” for democracy to choose “what is the democratic mandate that is fulfilled”, in apparent contrast between the results of the referendum held in June 2016 and the law that was approved by the opposition in block and 'tories 'dissidents who do not want a way out without EU agreement.

The minister has confirmed, however, that the Government “will comply with any decision” adopted by the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom on the suspension of parliamentary activity, according to which the deputies will not return to work until two weeks before the date of Brexit . Barclay has defended the paralysis because he considers that those two weeks are “the parliamentary period that really matters”, to the extent that, if there is agreement, it will not reach “until the last moment”.

Thus, he has expressly criticized the position of the leader of the Labor Party, Jeremy Corbyn, for now asking for a new referendum to ask citizens for their opinion on a possible agreement and has called “not to prolong uncertainty.” The “alternative” to the current Administration, he added, would be a government “that will negotiate an agreement and then campaign against its own agreement.”


Barclay has underlined the defense of the “territorial integrity” of the United Kingdom, under which he has rejected the holding of a new independence referendum in Scotland or some type of agreement that could jeopardize the Good Friday Agreements that allowed in 1998 achieve peace in Northern Ireland.

In relation to Gibraltar, he stressed that the future scenario after Brexit was already discussed “in a very pragmatic and constructive way” during the previous negotiations phase and recalled that it is in the interest of all parties that there are the least possible damages once the divorce is consummated, also for the 10,000 Spaniards estimated to cross the Gate regularly.

Barclay also wanted to value the “contribution” of Spanish citizens residing in British territory, to whom London has offered “a very generous offer” to maintain in any case their current rights until the end of 2020.

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