Brexit: Agreement on legal changes to the backstop

On Monday, 11th March, Prime Minister Theresa May and Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker secured a last-minute legally binding joint instrument relating to the backstop of the Brexit withdrawal agreement 

May hopes the agreed changes will be enough to convince British MPs to pass the Brexit deal through Parliament tonight. Voting is scheduled to start at 7pm.  

At the late-night press conference, Juncker said: “there will be no further chance, there will be no further interpretations of the interpretations, no further assurances on the reassurances if the meaningful vote fails.” He added: “This deal. This instrument. This arrangement. This treaty — is complementing the Withdrawal Agreement without reopening it.”  


What has been agreed?  

  1. Both sides agree that the backstop is not a permanent solution. That was a key demand from the UK; 
  2. Joint statement by both sides to pursue “alternative arrangements” to the backstop by December 2020. Finding “alternative arrangements” was an idea from the UK and it is unclear what it means; 
  3. The UK declares unilaterally that it can apply to the arbitration panel to exit the backstop if no future trade deal can be reached. The EU did not sign this document.  


What next this week?