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David Davis says May's Brexit deal is 'dreadful' but if UK could pull out of backstop it's 'rescuable'

Davis also said that in a way, Theresa May’s deal is worse than the UK’s current membership of the EU.
Mar 10th 2019, 5:33 PM 30,089 58

THE FORMER BREXIT secretary David Davis has said Prime Minister Theresa May’s draft Brexit deal is “dreadful” and, in a way, worse than the UK’s current EU membership.

“Frankly this deal is worse than current membership in one sense because we can’t get out of it,” he told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show

He said that it was “a dreadful deal on many many counts”, but added that if the UK could leave the backstop whenever it chooses, that it might be “rescuable”. 

“I would love to be able to vote for it, if she gets the ability to pull out,” he said.

Throughout this whole process, I’ve been trying to get the Prime Minister to keep the thing rescuable, and at one point in July decided it wasn’t. 

Theresa May’s Withdrawal Agreement was rejected by the House of Commons by 230 votes in January this year – the largest defeat for a modern British government. 

After this defeat, which MPs said was based on an opposition to the backstop, May pledged that she would return to the European Union and ask for the changes needed to get her deal passed. Among the suggestions requested by the British side was a time limit on the backstop, or the power to withdraw from the backstop without the EU’s approval.

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The backstop locks the UK, including Northern Ireland, into a customs deal and other regulations in order to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland. It’s been a bone of contention in the Brexit debate.

Speaking on the Marr Show, Davis said that EU leaders were “shocked” after the deal was rejected, and “that the language changed”:

“The tenor of the language changed. Mr Varadkar’s language changed, Mr Juncker’s language changed, Mr Tusk’s… and then all of a sudden, three Cabinet ministers said ‘You’ve got to take no-deal off the table’, ‘You’ve got to have an extension’, and then it went back to being hard again.”

Davis also said that he’s not hoping for a no-deal Brexit, but that it needs to be kept as a viable option “because it’s what keeps bringing the European Union back”.

The issue here is the negotiation strategy has gone wrong and it’s gone wrong because the government has abandoned the one thing you can do and it’s to walk away if you don’t like the deal. We’ve given that away.

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Gráinne Ní Aodha

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