EU’s backstop tactics exposed? Northern Ireland First Minister’s brilliant point revealed
The EU wants to tie Northern Ireland to Brussels permanently regardless of Brexit, according to the former First Minister of Northern Ireland David Trimble in an unearthed article. The Irish backstop is a problem that continues to prevent the UK leaving the EU, as it appears to be unsolvable. As the Republic of Ireland will still be in the EU once the Brexit deadline has passed while Northern Ireland intends to leave with the rest of the UK, the Irish backstop was a solution put forward by Theresa May’s government. It was supposed to only be a temporary measure until another solution was found, and aimed to ensure there would be no border posts, physical barriers or checks on people or goods crossing over between the two countries.
However, it would mean Northern Ireland was part of the customs union and so effectively still in the EU – and it would have to follow some single market rules.
It has become a source of great contention as Brexiteers, such as Prime Minister Boris Johnson, believe the backstop defeats the very point of Brexit.
He has proposed a deal which would scrap the backstop and has suggested using technology and a scheme for trusts businesses to by-pass checks, but the EU has not yet agreed to a solution.
Remainers believe Mrs May and Mr Johnson have not been able to negotiate an effective deal with the union, causing the current deadline, but the first ever First Minister of Northern Ireland, Lord Trimble, believes the EU has an ulterior motive.
In May last year, Irish website Slugger O’Toole reported that Lord Trimble accused Brussels – and Dublin – of “scaremongering on a fairly limited basis” about the threat to peace in Northern Ireland.
He claimed the bloc is biased and wants Northern Ireland for itself.
Lord Trimble said: “Pressure has been coming from Brussels and Dublin for some time for a significant change to be made to how Northern Ireland is governed.
“The drive is there to get Northern Ireland into a special situation: linked permanently to the European Union, with the rest of the United Kingdom to that extent weakened.”
Lord Trimble was the former Ulster Unionist Party leader and now sits as a Conservative peer.
He was discussing an amendment to the Brexit Bill put forward by the Tory peer Lord Patten, which required all ministers to act compatibly with the Good Friday Agreement and prevent a hard border.
Peers voted in favour of the amendment, at 309 to 242, however, Lord Trimble argued against it.
He said: “Brexit is not going to damage the Good Friday agreement; this amendment will, because it excludes the people of Northern Ireland.”
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As the Northern Irish Assembly is not currently running, Lord Trimble blamed the Republic’s government – led by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Tanaiste Simon Coveney – for putting Northern Ireland in this compromising position.
The Conservative peer said: “The behaviour at the moment of the Irish Prime Minister and Coveney, backed up by the European Union, is actually destroying that relationship and doing considerable damage to it.
“I know that we cannot directly affect that, but the message should go out very clearly to Dublin and to Brussels that they are not to continue to damage the basis of our institutions in pursuit of some petty objective, such as getting yourself elected as the head of a European body in Brussels.
“Future arrangements are to be made over the Northern Ireland border but it is obvious that you have to have the people of Northern Ireland and their elected representatives closely involved in that.
“If not, you are going to make the same mistake.”
Mr Johnson rejected the idea of a Northern Ireland-only backstop in his People PMQ’s broadcast live on Facebook and Twitter, earlier this week.
He said: “The backstop is going to be removed, I very much hope – I insist – because that’s the only way to get a deal.”
The Prime Minister is expected to meet European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker on Monday to discuss the UK’s exit from the EU as the Brexit deadline – 31 October – approaches.
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