Mr Barwell explained the backstop was brought in as an “insurance policy” by the EU but noted it wouldn’t have been necessary if they had both talks at the same time. The two topics were negotiating the divorce arrangements followed by the UK and EU’s relationship in the future. Speaking to Radio 5 Live, He said: “I think one of the things that I would reflect on is the original phasing decision which was something that the EU pushed very hard for.
“That, definitely, with hindsight, made it hard.
“What I mean by that is the talks were split in two; that we would start by negotiating the divorce arrangements, and then once we settled all of that, we’d talk about what relationship we want to have in the future.
“That split is what essentially led to the backstop, because at the point that you’re having the divorce, you haven’t settled what your relationship is going to be like in the future.
“The EU argued that both to protect their single market and also to keep the border in Ireland as it is today, you needed some kind of insurance policy.
“That wouldn’t have been necessary if we’d done both sets of talks at the same time.
“So, if I was going to identify a single issue, that’s probably by the one I would pick.”
His comments come as Prime Minister Boris Johnson is negotiating a new Brexit deal which doesn’t include a backstop as he looks into “alternative arrangements”.
His new plans were boosted by Jean-Claude Juncker who said “We can have a deal.”
The European Commission President signalled his readiness to consider the Prime Minister’s new proposals for a revised Withdrawal Agreement.
He also admitted that a no-deal divorce would have “catastrophic consequences” for the EU. Mr Juncker spoke out after Government officials confirmed that they have presented a draft blueprint of alternative plans for the Northern Irish border to EU negotiators.
In a Sky News interview, the top Brussels bureaucrat said he had “a rather positive meeting” with Mr Johnson when they met for talks over lunch in Luxembourg earlier this week despite reports to the contrary. “We can have a deal, he said.
Asked if the chances of a deal were 50-50, he added: “I don’t know, but I’m doing everything to have a deal because I don’t like the idea of no-deal because this would have catastrophic consequences.
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“It is better for Britain and for the EU to have an organised deal.”
Mr Juncker also appeared to indicate that he was ready to accept the Prime Minister’s demand for dropping the so-called backstop border mechanism in favour of “alternative arrangements” designed to prevent customs checks between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic.
He suggested alternative arrangements would be acceptable if they “achieve the main objectives of the backstop”.
Insisting he did not have an emotional attachment to the backstop, he said: “If the results are there, I don’t care about it. If the objectives are met, all of them, we don’t need the backstop.”
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