There is now very little time in which to negotiate a new Agreement between tge UK and EU under Article 50. We need to get this done before the October European Council.
This Government wants to get a deal, as I am sure we all do. If we cannot reach one, it would present a failure of statecraft for which we would all be responsible. Our predecessors have tackled harder problems: we can surely solve this one.
Both sides now need to consider whether there is sufficient willingness to compromise and move beyond existing positions to get us to an agreement in time. We are ready to do that, and this letter sets out what I regard as a reasonable compromise: the broad landing zone in which I believe a deal can begin to take shape.
Our proposed compromise removes the so-called “backstop” in the previous Withdrawal Agreement. I have explained the difficulties with this elsewhere, including the fact that it has been rejected three times by the UK Parliament. Equally important in this context, the backstop acted as a bridge to a proposed future relationship with the EU in which the UK would be closely integrated with EU customs arrangements and would align with the EU law in many areas. That proposed future relationship is not the goal of the current UK Government. The Government intends that the future relationship should be based on a Free Trade Agreement in which the UK takes control of its own regulatory afairs and trade policy. In these circumstances the proposed “backstop” is a bridge to nowhere, and a new way forward must be found.