Theresa May’s Brexit chief has been snapped revealing parts of private government documents outlining Britain’s plan for the Northern Ireland border.
Chief negotiator Olly Robbins was photographed holding a folder of plans for the so-called ‘backstop’ – the biggest point of contention in the Prime Minister’s Brexit plan.
Unionist MPs hate the plan – which would keep Northern Ireland in a customs union with the EU after Brexit if no solution could be found to avoid a hard border with the Republic.
The document appears to reveal plans for a “separate agreement” – and that the government wants any use of the backstop to be “for the shortest possible period”.
It mirrors Irish PM Leo Varadkar’s comments on Saturday, when he said: “Nobody wants us to have to evoke it [the backstop], and if it is evoked, we want to make sure it is for the shortest possible period.”
Only the bottom right hand corner of the document is visible, as the paper blew in the wind. Because of this, each line is only partially readable.
Nevertheless, here is a full transcript of every readable word in the photograph. Make of it what you will.
…tocol will be
…of 2020, so that the
…come into effect by the end of
…theless to permanently guarantee
…separate agreement to supersede the
…intend that any such agreement would
…the Protocol would not enter into force.
…came into force, the Union and the United Kingdom
…in force for the shortest possible period, and in any
…after the end of the transition period. Both parties intend
…permanently guaranteeing no hard border on the island of
…that point, established on a legal basis under the EU Treaties
…to those permanent arrangements.
…tocol, and the Political Declaration, note that discussions on alternative
…consider a full range of facilitative arrangements and technologies. The
…underline that any arrangements which supersede the Protocol are not
…replicate its provisions in any respect, provided that the underlying objectives