06/12/2018

Alliance: Backstop Protects The Good Friday Agreement

As Prime Minister Theresa May fights to gain Parliament support for her Withdrawal Agreement, Northern Ireland's Alliance Party has issued an assurance that the backstop it contains will protect the Good Friday Agreement.

Deputy Leader and Brexit spokesperson for the party, Stephen Farry MLA was speaking after the Attorney General Geoffrey Cox published his full legal advice regarding the future relationship between the UK and the EU.

Despite strong opposition from the Democratic Unionists, Mr Farry claimed that MPs should have already been well aware of the nature of the backstop.

"No one in Parliament should really be surprised or shocked at the legal advice on the backstop. Its nature and purpose should have been evident to anyone following the negotiations over the past 18 months.
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"The need for a backstop only arises due to the decision of the UK to leave the EU and the Government ruling out soft Brexit options around a Customs Union and the Single Market. Northern Ireland only works on the basis of sharing and interdependence. People and businesses work on the basis of both north-south and east-west interactions. Brexit risks new friction and barriers."

Mr Farry also said the backstop is the minimum arrangement required to prevent a hard border and protect the Good Friday Agreement, and should only be there until a better alternative is reached.

"The EU continues to be clear this type of backstop is integral to any Withdrawal Agreement, and it is wishful thinking to believe a different approach to withdrawal can be taken. It was originally devised to cover Northern Ireland only, but it was the Government that sought to extend this UK-wide.

"It does not interfere or undermine Northern Ireland's constitutional position and the Principle of Consent. Indeed, it may create some comparative economic advantages for this region. This reality should have been clear to all MPs before and should be readily understood now."



(JG)

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