Phil Hogan says EU still ‘trusts’ Theresa May
EU commissioner says remains optimistic about Brexit deal
Phil Hogan EU commissioner. Photograph: Alan Betson
“I think this is concentrating the mind of the prime minister and she has a difficult situation because she has to bring a lot of people that are reluctant about any deal along with her in order to have the necessary numbers to get the deal approved in the House of Commons.
“But the European Union, despite all of the provocation, has remained very united, united on our mandate and united in favour of Ireland in terms of dealing with the situation that we find ourselves in on the island of Ireland.”
A special summit of EU leaders was due to be held in mid-November if a deal was within touching distance. However, this was not the case at the October European Council summit and so the plan for the November meeting was dropped.
A European Council meeting is planned for December 13th and 14th.
Mr Hogan denied that any new deal is going to replace the existing, original backstop “that is to deal with the island of Ireland situation that was agreed last December, and repeated again in March.
“There will not be an opportunity from the European Union side to agree that the backstop of December/March is kicked down the road into the future relationship.”
When asked about the claim that the backstop is an “assault on the constitutional integrity of the UK”, he said “the only people that believe this is the Democratic Unionist Party otherwise the prime minister would not have signed up to this last December and last March to this particular backstop.
“Trust of the British prime minister is important, the European Union trusts her, that what she signed up to earlier this year on the backstop is actually what she means to implement.
“So if there was a constitutional problem with that on that occasion, certainly they cannot now invent a constitutional problem for it just to placate the Democratic Unionist Party.
“At the end of the day this will be legally operational within the European Union’s and the UK’s agreement or else there will be no deal.”
The Backstop is an insurance policy that the EU and UK have agreed to include in the withdrawal agreement to avoid the return of border checks because of the risk to peace whereby a physical border infrastructure would be considered a potential target for paramilitaries..
Both sides see it as a last resort to be triggered in the event of no better solution being found to avoid a hard border in a EU-UK trade deal.