Tuesday, 25 June, 2019

Boris Johnson calls for PM May to ditch Brexit border backstop

Workers at a factory in Ballygawley Northern Ireland Workers at a factory in Ballygawley Northern Ireland
Deanna Wagner | 13 October, 2018, 20:53

The DUP is also unhappy that May is close to accepting the "backstop" plan for the Irish border, which could involve checks on some goods transported to Northern Ireland from Britain.

Britain has proposed a customs arrangement with the European Union to avoid physical checks between Northern Ireland and European Union member Ireland, until the issue can be resolved with a wider trade deal.

Britain will have to pay Brussels billions of pounds if it stays part of a customs union with the EU after Brexit as part of a deal to keep the Irish border invisible.

The news comes after the Democratic Unionist Party threatened to vote against the Budget, and potentially bring down the Government, in opposition to a backstop plan that would treat Northern Ireland differently to the rest of Great Britain.

"She will not have DUP support regardless of whether the government tries to bribe, bully or browbeat us into accepting it", Wilson also said.

Mrs Foster has made clear that any Brexit deal in which Northern Ireland is treated separately to the rest of the United Kingdom, or faces extra checks along the border with Ireland, would be unacceptable to her party and that this is a "blood red line".

European Union Commissioner Guenther Oettinger said Friday that he sees room for a breakthrough in the talks next week, when leaders from the 27 EU nations meet with British Prime Minister Theresa May.

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The Northern Ireland "backstop" has emerged as the main stumbling block in the Brexit negotiations.

Brexit was a "fundamental, existential issue" and "on that basis maybe some people will obviously consider their position", he said.

"There are still big issues remaining and we will continue to talk today and over the weekend if necessary", the Downing Street spokeswoman said.

May has said she wants "frictionless" trade with the European Union after Brexit to help safeguard Britain's economy while regaining full sovereignty. "Anyone engaging in this in a light-hearted way foolishly fails to grasp the gravity of the decisions we will make in the coming weeks", Foster said.

Former foreign secretary Boris Johnson, writing in the News Letter, said: "The only way to put things back on the right track is to ditch the backstop and then to chuck Chequers".

The pledge came amid speculation over possible ministerial resignations if the Prime Minister gives too much ground ahead of the Brussels summit next week.

Pensions secretary Esther McVey pointedly refused to endorse the PM's plan during the latest cabinet meeting and global development secretary Penny Mordaunt and the leader of the Commons Andrea Leadsom also made it clear they held deep concerns.