Nick asks the Prime Minister to confirm that the UK cannot be 'trapped' in the backstop arrangement

Nick Herbert

Is it not the case that legally the backstop can only be temporary, because it is a pathway to a future trade deal, and that therefore descriptions of being trapped in the backstop forever, or of becoming a vassal state or even, absurdly, a colony, are overblown and wrong? Should not hon. Members look at the deal, which I commend the Prime Minister for having negotiated, in the round, because it will enable us to deliver on the promise we made to the British people to implement their decision in the referendum?

The Prime Minister

I absolutely agree with my right hon. Friend; it is important that this deal does deliver on the decision of the British people. We committed to deliver on that decision. There are various references in the withdrawal agreement that make it clear that the backstop, were it to be invoked, would only be temporary, not least the fact that the withdrawal agreement is on the legal basis of article 50, which cannot be used to establish a permanent relationship.