Key Changes to Language on N. Irish Backstop: Brexit Analysis

(Bloomberg) -- The final touches are being put to the language dealing with the long-standing problem of how to keep the border open between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland when the U.K. leaves the European Union.

We compared the former 7-page draft with the latest one (26 pages) and there is a key word change to the political declaration that sets the outline of their future relationship.

It’s gone from “intention” to end the backstop to “determination.” That could make it easier for so-called Brexiteers to stomach if they think it means a guarantee that the U.K. won’t be kept in a customs union indefinitely.

Before: “In this context, recalling the Union’s and the United Kingdom’s intention to replace the backstop solution on Northern Ireland by a subsequent agreement that establishes alternative arrangements for ensuring the absence of a hard border on the island of Ireland on a permanent footing.”
After: The EU and the U.K. “recall their determination to replace the backstop solution on Northern Ireland by a subsequent agreement that establishes alternative arrangements for ensuring the absence of a hard border on the island of Ireland on a permanent footing.”

There are a few more things that are sweeteners for the pro-Brexit members in Theresa May’s Conservative Party that think this is a bad deal that leaves the U.K. captive to the EU. There is the inclusion of the use of potential future technologies to help make the border quasi-invisible.

Before: “Zero tariffs, no fees, charges or quantitative restrictions across all goods sectors, with ambitious customs arrangements that build on the single customs territory provided for in the Withdrawal Agreement, respecting the Parties’ legal orders.”
After: “The Parties will put in place ambitious customs arrangements, in pursuit of their overall objectives. In doing so, the Parties envisage making use of all available facilitative arrangements and technologies, in full respect of their legal orders and ensuring that customs authorities are able to protect the Parties’ respective financial interests and enforce public policies.”

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