06/02/2019

Brexit: PM's Pledge To Avoid A Hard Border

Prime Minister Theresa May has visited Belfast to offer assurances over her Brexit strategy and reiterate her "unshakeable" commitment to avoiding a hard border in Ireland.

"The UK Government will not let that happen. I will not let that happen," the Conservative leader told an audience in the city on the afternoon of Tuesday 05 February.

Mrs May continued in her speech that she will seek changes to the backstop, off the back of a Parliament vote, but restated that she is not pursuing its total removal from the Withdrawal Agreement.

The backstop is an insurance policy, agreed by the EU, that protects against a hard border in any Brexit reality, such as a no-deal crash out on 29 March.

The DUP believe the backstop could threaten the integrity of the union as it holds the potential of checks on goods coming into NI from Great Britain and it would also apply unless and until the EU and UK jointly decided to end it.

Despite the opposition, the Republic of Ireland and EU have said there can be no renegotiation of the Brexit deal, or the backstop.

Mrs May said she also wanted to strengthen the UK's "unique" relationship with the Irish government and emphasised the UK Government's readiness to support the "tantalising possibility" of a joint UK-Irish bid for the football World Cup in 2030.
News Image
She pledged to work with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to "continue to maintain, and indeed enhance, the strongest possible bilateral partnership between the UK and Ireland" after Brexit.

The Prime Minister is set to meet with Northern Ireland political representatives today, Wednesday 06 February, in a bid to help restore the power sharing institutions which have been suspended for over two years.

Meanwhile, the Ulster Unionists have called on Mrs May to "deliver on her promise" and remove the backstop in order to protect the constitutional integrity of the United Kingdom.

Robin Swann MLA said he welcomed the visit to Belfast, but it presented "nothing new" so-far.

"There can be no change to the constitutional status of Northern Ireland without the express consent of the majority of people in Northern Ireland. It is a crucial part of the Belfast Agreement and the Backstop quite clearly breaches it," the MLA for north Antrim commented.

"I welcome the fact that even the DUP now recognise that the Belfast Agreement secures Northern Ireland's position within the United Kingdom. Anyone who understands the Belfast Agreement knows full well that the Backstop is incompatible with it and the Government needs to make this point loud and clear. Once that basic fact is recognised and accepted by Dublin and Brussels, then perhaps we can make real progress.

"The Withdrawal Agreement and the Backstop must be amended to respect the Belfast Agreement and to both recognise and defend the economic and constitutional integrity of the United Kingdom."



(JG/CM)

Related Northern Ireland News Stories
Click here for the latest headlines.

14 February 2019
Other News In Brief
Record Number Of Children In Care In NI A record number of children were recorded as living in care in Northern Ireland last year, as revealed by the Department of Health. Over 3,000 youngsters were in the system, with the majority of them being looked after for less than three years.
10 April 2013
Cameron Hails Good Friday Agreement
Prime Minister David Cameron has praised the Good Friday Agreement to mark the 15th anniversary of the power-sharing deal. "I have no doubt that the Agreement was a truly momentous event in the history of Northern Ireland," he said.
16 May 2006
Children's park named in honour of Mo Mowlam
A children's park within the grounds of the Stormont estate has today been named after former Northern Ireland Secretary of State, Mo Mowlam. Ms Mowlam, was one of the most popular and respected NI Secretary's during the her time in office between 1997 and 1999. She died in August last year after a lengthy illness at the age of 55.
21 October 2003
NI elections to take place in November
New assembly elections for Northern Ireland are set to take place on November 26, the Government confirmed today. The announcement came following intensive negotiations between Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble and Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams as well as both the British and the Irish governments.
21 March 2008
Change Assembly Voting: Mallon
Ten years on from the signing of the Belfast Agreement, one of the main contributors to its construction has said he would radically change the voting system at Stormont.