The backstop could remain permanent. We have had confusion this morning on the advice from the House of Commons Library and the Chancellor about how it could be ended or a transition deal extended in some form. There is absolute confusion at the moment, and we are now undermining the relationship with one of our biggest trading partners as a result.
One organisation, the National Institute of Economic and Social Research, has estimated that by 2030 we could see a £70 billion reduction in national GDP, in 2016 prices, as a result. Once the Prime Minister accepted our argument for a transition period, she argued that it was right because it would mean only one change for British businesses. Now we face shifting from a transition period to a backstop arrangement, and then to a free trade deal. This is not what was promised. We do know, however, what the Chancellor thinks of the backstop arrangement because he has said so:
“I’ve been clear from the outset that I do not like the backstop. I don’t think the backstop is a good arrangement for our economy, I don’t think it’s a good arrangement for our union.”
I fully agree.