Last week the government shared with the EU a “series of confidential technical non-papers” on the UK’s ideas on Brexit.
On Wednesday Guy Verhofstadt said, these non papers do not meet the objectives of the backstop, which is the contingency measure which will help keep the UK aligned with Brussels rules to prevent a hard border with Ireland.
Verhofstadt who is the European Parliament’s Brexit co-ordinator said, “They are not meeting the three conditions.
“This point is not solved, and this backstop needs to be in place as it is for them. We have already said from day one that if they want to change the backstop, they can go to the one they first proposed because the backstop as it is now was at the request of the UK government.”
Adding, “It was not the initial proposal of the EU side or whatever European negotiator.
“We wanted a Northern Ireland backstop only and also for the good reason that the majority of Northern Ireland voted against Brexit, so let’s not forget that.”
Verhofstaft spoke at the cross-party public hearing on Brexit in the European Parliament in Brussels. He said that he is opposed to a border in Ireland separating North and South.
He said, “it is not just about avoiding physical infrastructure.
“It is also about the unity of the island economy. It’s about the single market of the European Union. It’s about the fallout of a border for the Good Friday Agreement.”
Verhofstadt said he visited the border “to look to a border that does not exist” shortly after becoming the head of the steering group.
He said, “Besides the fact that there are miles on one side and kilometres on the other side, and that the signs are yellow and white. That is the only difference that you can see.”