The Irish backstop was "insurance" to avoid a hard border on the Irish isle until an alternative could be found and that those against the backstop that were not proposing "realistic alternatives" backed reestablishing a hard border "even if they do not admit it", European Council president Donald Tusk tweeted on Tuesday.
The backstop is an insurance to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland unless and until an alternative is found. Those against the backstop and not proposing realistic alternatives in fact support reestablishing a border. Even if they do not admit it.— Donald Tusk (@eucopresident) August 20, 2019
The news comes after a 'well-informed source' cited by the Guardian said that the "EU compromised" over the course of a two and a half year negotiating process, "including on the question of the backstop".
“The withdrawal agreement is not open for renegotiation and the backstop is not open for change," the source told the Guardian. "A legally operable backstop to avoid a hard border remains central to the withdrawal agreement for the EU27.”
Reporters from Sky News and ITV commented on Mr Tusk's response, with the former accusing the European Council head of "blaming" the British Prime Minister for resurrecting the Northern Irish border and the latter stating that Mr Tusk was "unimpressed" by Mr Johnson's letter calling for an abolition of the Irish backstop.
Donald Tusk replies - blaming Boris Johnson for risking the resurrection of a border in Northern Ireland by opposing the backstop without a “realistic” alternative https://t.co/PHV4Bd532g— Sam Coates Sky (@SamCoatesSky) August 20, 2019
BREAKING: Donald Tusk seems unimpressed by Boris Johnson's letter calling for the backstop to be abolished. Seems here to be accusing the PM of being disingenuous about his aims. https://t.co/5pQTFHd6I8— Paul Brand (@PaulBrandITV) August 20, 2019
Boris Johnson wrote a letter to Tusk on late Monday urging officials in Brussels to find alternative arrangements before the end of the UK's post-Brexit transition period to avoid the backstop, which would allow Northern Ireland to remain in the EU Customs Union should talks between the UK and EU fall through. PM Johnson slammed the backstop as "anti-democratic", stating that it was "inconsistent with the sovereignty of the UK as a state", according to his letter.
The backstop has been a contentious issue between London and Brussels, with the former stating that the UK would leave the Union by the 31 October deadline "come what may", despite hoping for a deal with the EU. Johnson also held talks with US president Donald Trump on late Monday, where London updated Washington on the progress of talks with Brussels, according to a White House statement.
Trump and Boris Johnson have spoken at least four times in the last few weeks, including twice in the last week, per the White House’s readouts. They’ll meet in France this weekend for the G7.— Rebecca Ballhaus (@rebeccaballhaus) August 19, 2019
Negotiations have hit numerous stumbling blocks, with the newly-appointed prime minister urging European ministers to drop the backstop, despite Brussels refusing to reopen talks on the withdrawal agreement agreed under former UK prime minister Theresa May, which had been voted down in Commons three times and pushing Brexit from its original 29 March deadline to 31 October.