Technical group established to look at Brexit backstop alternatives

Technical group established to look at Brexit backstop alternatives

Customs experts, academics, industry figures and a senior police officer will form part of a new advisory panel on finding alternatives to the Brexit backstop for the Irish border.

The technical alternative arrangements advisory group will meet for the first time on Thursday, co-chaired by UK Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay and Treasury Financial Secretary Jesse Norman.

Mr Barclay said:

"There has been considerable debate about the alternative arrangements that could be put in place to replace the backstop, including how we could harness the power of cutting-edge technologies, trusted trader schemes, and IT systems."

He said the group will allow experts "to discuss workable alternative arrangements, assessing both capability and timelines and bringing their significant experience to bear".

The backstop is aimed at preventing a hard border with Ireland by keeping the UK closely aligned with Brussels' rules unless and until an alternative can be found.

The new advisory group will explore alternatives to replace it by the end of 2020, the end of the transition period under the terms of the Brexit deal, so the backstop would never have to be used.

Members of the 15-strong group include PSNI assistant chief constable Tim Mairs, chief executive of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry Mike Thompson, and Michael Bell, the executive director of the Northern Ireland Food and Drink Association.

The group is one of three the Government has committed to set up - the second will be made up of businesses and trade unions and the third will feature parliamentarians.

The Government has made available £20m of funding to support the development, testing or piloting of ideas, including those that emerge from these groups.

PA

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