The United Kingdom’s Brexit Secretary, Stephen Barclay, recently met in Brussels with Michel Barnier — a chief negotiator of the European Union — to move forward the terms of the U.K.’s exit of the EU, The BBC reported on Friday. Barclay said that things were “moving forward with momentum.”
Barnier described the appointment as “a very cordial meeting,” although he cautioned that “a lot of work” was yet to be done before the Brexit deadline of October 31. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said on Thursday that a new deal could still be struck by then.
A primary concern facing Brexit is the need to avoid a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. The EU has stated that UK has not provided enough details to warrant a solid proposal on how to handle the matter. Politico reported that Barclay had said that key decisions on the matter could be postponed until after the Brexit deal proper had been finalized.
The so-called “backstop” is a function built into the Brexit negotiations designed to safeguard against a hard border being drawn between Ireland’s two separate constituencies in the event of financial and security arrangements failing to be negotiated on time. The idea is to avoid a re-emergence of the violence experienced by Ireland in the past when hard borders existed.
But there are economic reasons, too. Barclay pointed out that some two thirds of pharmaceutical products used in Ireland — which will remain part of the EU after Brexit — come through the British trade hub of Dover, citing it as an example of how a favorable Brexit deal is in everyone’s best interest and not just the U.K.’s.
“Its supermarkets are supplied from distribution centers in the Midlands. Yet this is presented as solely a U.K. challenge — it is a mutual challenge, because if indeed there were two and a half days of delays at Calais, then the impact of that would not solely be felt within the U.K., it would be felt in Ireland and indeed in businesses here in Spain…There’s a common purpose in Dublin, in London and here in Brussels to see a deal over the line.”
The news comes a few days after Johnson found himself the subject of memes posted around the Internet after he compared the U.K.’s exit from the European Union to Marvel Comic’s superhero, the Hulk, breaking free of its chains, per The Inquisitr.