Wednesday, 8 Apr 2020

Boris Johnson won't support Northern Ireland-only backstop, says DUP after meeting with UK Prime Minister

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has reiterated his rejection of a Northern Ireland-only backstop and determination to get a deal with the EU in a meeting with the DUP.

DUP leader Arlene Foster and deputy leader Nigel Dodds met with Mr Johnson in Downing Street this evening.

On leaving Mr Dodds described it as a “very good meeting” with a spokesman for Mr Johnson saying it was “positive”.

Mrs Foster said the referendum result has to be implemented.

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“Those blocking Brexit are causing uncertainty but, more worrying, they are damaging democracy by ignoring the United Kingdom’s decision,” she said.

The visit came after Mr Johnson travelled to Dublin for his first meeting with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.

Mr Varadkar said having no backstop would have the same effect as a no deal and it was a critical to any agreement.

He did say the EU was open to legally workable alternatives, although none had yet been offered.

Ahead of the DUP’s meeting with Mr Johnson, DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson said the party still held sway in the corridors of power in Westminster and they were involved in Brexit talks.

Ms Foster said: “A sensible deal, between the United Kingdom and European Union which respects the economic and constitutional integrity of the United Kingdom, is the best way forward for everyone.

“We were encouraged by the tone and language in Dublin on Monday.

“History teaches us that any deal relating to Northern Ireland which cannot command cross community support is doomed to failure. That is why the Northern Ireland backstop is flawed.  Not one single unionist MLA in the Northern Ireland Assembly supports it.

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“The Prime Minister rejected a Northern Ireland only backstop in a letter to [EU Council president] Donald Tusk on 19 August.

“It is undemocratic and unconstitutional and would place a tariff border between Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom. That would be unacceptable.

“During today’s meeting, the Prime Minister confirmed his rejection of the Northern Ireland only backstop and his commitment to securing a deal which works for the entire United Kingdom as well as our neighbours in the Republic of Ireland.”

The DUP and Tories have a confidence-and-supply agreement which sees the Northern Ireland party support the minority government in key votes.

It secured £1bn (€1.1bn) in funding for Northern Ireland over two years ago and is due for review ahead of the new parliamentary session on October 14 and expires at the next election.

The DUP have supported the Prime Minister’s repeated calls for a general election which have so-far failed to get the numbers required in parliament.

Under the current law the next election is not due until 2022, however, a vote is widely expected before the end of this year and likely in November.

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