November 11, 2018 / 10:10 AM / a month ago

Britain cannot push for unilateral end to Brexit backstop - Hinds

Britain's Secretary of State for Education Damian Hinds appears on the BBC's Marr Show, in London, Britain, November 11, 2018. Jeff Overs/BBC/Handout via REUTERS

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain cannot push for a unilateral mechanism to end a so-called backstop arrangement to prevent the return of a hard border between Northern Ireland and EU-member Ireland, Education Minister Damian Hinds said on Sunday.

His words will further anger eurosceptics in Prime Minister Theresa May’s Conservative Party who fear the backstop, an insurance policy if a deal on future ties does not guarantee an open border, could keep Britain in the European Union’s customs union indefinitely.

“The prime minister has to negotiate something which is negotiable with the other side as well as working for people here. If we have too hard a line about saying that we must have a totally unilateral exit or there’s an absolutely fixed, hard end date, it is very, very unlikely that that is going to be negotiable with the other side,” he told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show.

“But on the other hand, people here rightly want comfort ... and confidence that it isn’t an open-ended thing, so there must be some sort of way of giving that comfort and confidence to people. But exactly what the shape of that is, that is at the heart of these discussions.”

Reporting by Elizabeth Piper; Editing by Janet Lawrence

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