Ireland cannot agree to drop backstop

21 October 2018

Following the latest request from the UK for the backstop to be dropped in return for a longer transition, Leader of the Labour Party, Brendan Howlin TD said that Ireland cannot agree to such a demand, and reiterated his support for a people’s vote in the UK.

Deputy Howlin said

“Ireland now faces into a potential lose-lose Brexit scenario. This weekend, UK Ministers, including the Brexit Secretary, Dominic Raab are openly calling for the backstop to be dropped in return for a longer transition.

“Ireland simply cannot agree to that, and the Irish Government should make clear what they intend to do about the UK abandoning their previous commitments.

“Labour warned the Government repeatedly that we must not allow the Irish backstop to be part of the final horse-trading between the EU and UK about the Withdrawal Agreement. The Taoiseach’s approach has failed to resolve the Irish border issue in advance of these final summits. He naively promised that it was ‘bulletproof, rock solid and cast iron’ this time last year. This is quite obviously not the case, as the backstop is the single major issue left to be resolved in the negotiations and deadlines for an agreed legal text have been repeatedly missed.

“The UK are now seeking to have the backstop, which they signed up to last December, dropped. The British Government cannot or will not fulfill their December promise to agree a permanent backstop. If this happens we would be presented with a ‘no deal’ outcome from the talks.

“At that point, all eyes would turn to Leo Varadkar. Our allies across the EU will ask him what Ireland wants to do next. He will have to choose between no deal – and therefore border controls – or no backstop, and the risk that the future EU-UK relationship will require border controls after all.

“Faced with the choice of a definite hard border or the risk of a hard border, pressure from business may well come on the Taoiseach to avoid the worst case ‘no deal’ outcome and to take the gamble that the future EU-UK relationship will be a close one.

“The instability in current British politics gives no reason to believe that the UK Government will be able to deliver the permanent backstop that they promised. The risk of ‘no deal’ is growing.

“Ireland must stand firm on the requirement for Theresa May’s government to fulfill its commitment. If she can’t deliver, then we must await the successor government to do so.

“I also welcome the popular demonstration of 700,000 people in London and across Britain and Northern Ireland, seeking a people’s vote. Real democracy always allows people to think again when new information is available and when deceptions have been swept aside.”

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