For goodness sake will everyone please just forget about the Backstop?’

Graham Charles Lear
4 min readJul 11, 2019

EU’s ‘Irish Backstop’ is just one reason May’s Withdrawal Agreement was a disgrace.

May’s surrender treaty is fatally flawed even if the Backstop is removed completely

For what seems like forever, MPs have been obsessing about one particular aspect of Mrs. May’s ‘Withdrawal Agreement’ the Northern Ireland Backstop. They shouldn’t. It’s just one of many issues but it has become a talisman and now endangers a ‘start again’ approach to Brexit negotiations.

The backdrop to the Backstop

In the run-up to the third and last of Mrs. May’s unsuccessful attempts to railroad her disastrous ‘Withdrawal Agreement’ through the Commons, it became clear that even members of the ‘European Research Group’ (ERG) of Brexit-backing Conservative MPs were considering voting for May’s surrender treaty.

The Government and its whips exerted huge pressure on pro-Brexit MPs and even suggested that the Backstop could be renegotiated or abrogated in some way after the Agreement was signed. They did so because the Backstop had become the last stand for many Brexiteer MPs.

In the end, my predictions that many ERG members would cave in ahead of the vote were correct. When continued pressure day after day is bought to bear its hard to stay focused. A large number of pro-Brexit and ERG members did, in fact, give in and vote for the Withdrawal Agreement on its third presentation, regardless of the presence of the Backstop. These included Boris Johnson, likely future Prime Minister, and the Chairman of the ERG, Jacob Rees-Mogg.

Only a small minority of Conservative MPs voted against the third Meaningful Vote, including stalwarts such as Steve Baker, Andrew Bridgen, Bill Cash, Mark Francois, Andrea Jenkyns, David Jones, Anne Marie Morris, Owen Paterson, and John Redwood, as well as Labour MPs such as Kate Hoey and Graham Stringer.

Back to the Backstop — and Boris

Boris Johnson has said a great deal about Brexit during the Tory leadership campaign. He has mentioned the Backstop many times.

Here’s an example from just over a week ago of what Boris Johnson said on the Backstop:-

“Under no circumstances, whatever happens, will I allow the EU or anyone else to create any kind of division down the Irish Sea or attenuate our Union.

“That is why I resigned over Chequers. It is terrible moral blackmail it puts on the UK Government. We can’t have that.

“The way to protect the Union is to come out of the EU whole and entire. Solve the border issues where they belong in the FTA (free trade agreement) which we are going to do.”

Boris Johnson, 02 Jul 2019

As readers can see, the Backstop was the resigning issue for Boris, back in July last year: “That is why I resigned over Chequers.”

Will everyone please just forget about the Backstop?

Mrs. May’s ‘Withdrawal Agreement’ is a totally unacceptable treaty in more ways than it is possible to list in one short article. Whilst the Backstop provisions are so bad that they must be rejected out of hand, Brexit

Put simply, the ‘Withdrawal Agreement’ is an abomination, full stop — even without the Backstop.

Readers will have heard Boris Johnson speaking about Brexit many times in recent weeks. Perhaps one of the stand-out quotes was that the UK would leave the EU on 31 October, “come what may, do or die”. This was encouraging for many people.

The big question is what compromises Mr. Johnson might be prepared to make in order to achieve this. (To say nothing of the forthcoming antics of anti-democratic MPs and peers in Parliament, in their attempts to thwart the will of the British people.)

One thing is clear. There can be no compromise over the Withdrawal Agreement. It must be rejected wholesale. It was drafted by the EU, with the complicity of pro-Remain British civil servants, and was agreed by a pro-Remain Prime Minister and pro-Remain Cabinet. It is my opinion that the process leading up to this was one of the most shameful in the history of British politics.

No tinkering with the Northern Ireland Backstop will come anywhere close to negating the other aspects of this appalling surrender treaty. A full ‘hard re-boot’ is required. Three years have been wasted. Now Boris has to deal with what he has in front of him, and this effectively means exiting the EU on the basis of a managed, clean Brexit on WTO terms on 31 Oct 2019.



Graham Charles Lear

What is life without a little controversy in it? Quite boring and sterile would be my answer.