Brexit: UUP suggests proposals to replace Irish backstop

Party wants UK commitment to indemnify the EU against single market infractions

A former Ulster Unionist Party leader has proposed the creation of a new North-South ministerial body as a means of monitoring and regulating trade across the Border after Brexit.

Lord (Reg) Empey has also proposed as an alternative to the backstop that the British government would indemnify the European Union against single market infractions.

He further proposed the creation of a new offence in British law for knowingly transporting non-compliant goods to the EU.

Lord Empey said he was putting forward the proposals in good faith in a bid to break the stalemate over the backstop.


He told the Press Association that the proposals represented an “Irish solution to an Irish problem”.

“What we are trying to do is to stimulate a debate. We need a solution. The roaring and shouting that has accompanied Boris Johnson’s activities in the last period doesn’t remove the need for a deal and it doesn’t remove the need for a solution to the problem,” he said.

"What we have been told by Dublin and Brussels is that they need an insurance policy to protect their single market. We accept that," said Lord Empey

"So what we are saying is the United Kingdom would make it an offence for its territory to be used to subvert the single market by sending goods through the UK to the single market knowing they were not compliant with single market rules, so people could be prosecuted as a result of that."

Lord Empey said a new North-South body, an addition to the six created under the 1998 Belfast Agreement, could be created to regulate and monitor trade across the Border.

He said the proposed new body also would educate and advise companies of any divergence between the UK and EU markets and inspect depots and other business premises to ensure compliance.

Gerry Moriarty

Gerry Moriarty

Gerry Moriarty is the former Northern editor of The Irish Times