The government will put together a plan for ‘alternative arrangements’ to the Northern Ireland backstop in coming days, says the foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt. In any case, there are no plans for the Prime Minister to return to Brussels, as mandated by this week’s Parliamentary votes, till next week. Senior EU officials—who’ve strongly reiterated opposition to renegotiating backstop proposals in recent days—have also signalled they would rather wait till after another round of voting scheduled for Valentines Day.
There may not be much love lost between Downing Street and Hunt either. After the minister noted that more time might be needed—pointing to an extension of the Article 50 process—"if we ended up approving a deal in the days before March 29”—No. 10 coolly repeated that "The prime minister's position” had not changed. “We will be leaving on March 29”. In the meantime, the new arrangements increasingly look set to cover old ground, with Hunt signalling that “all the different routes that have been discussed” were being considered. That looks like a reference to the technological solutions that were aired (and some might say discredited) early in the process.
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