Reaction As PM Rejects 'Anti-Democratic' Backstop

Political leaders have responded to Prime Minister Boris Johnson's claims that the backstop will undermine Northern Ireland's peace.

Ahead of negotiations this week with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron, Mr Johnston wrote to European Council President Donald Tusk, stating that the "anti-democratic" backstop must be scrapped.

Sinn Fein accused the Prime Minister of hypocrisy, while the Alliance party said the "reckless and disingenuous" rejection of the backstop amounts to support for "a catastrophic no deal".

The Conservative party leader asserted that the measure would undermine the Good Friday Agreement of 1998, by "weakening the delicate balance" between the communities and traditions in Northern Ireland.

Mr Tusk responded by saying those who oppose the backstop without proposing any "realistic alternatives" risk the reestablishing of a hard border on the island of Ireland.

Sinn Fein's Michelle O'Neill said Boris Johnson's claims that he is protecting the peace process while pursuing a no-deal Brexit amount to "rank hypocrisy".

"In reality it is Boris Johnson's reckless pursuit of a no-deal Brexit that is threatening to undermine the peace process," the mid Ulster MLA said.
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"Brexit is incompatible with the Good Friday Agreement and the Tories have shown a total and callous disregard to that agreement and to the democratically expressed wishes of the people of the north. 

"The fact is that the British government has agreed to the backstop and Boris Johnson has voted for it himself. 

"The EU have made it clear that the backstop is integral to the Withdrawal Agreement and it is necessary to avoid any hardening of the border. It is high time the Tories realised that too."

Meanwhile, Alliance Deputy Leader Stephen Farry said there is no prospect of the backstop being removed or renegotiated.

Reacting to Mr Johnson's criticism of the measure, Dr Farry said: "His scope to move lies around the political declaration and his current stance amounts to the pursuit of a catastrophic no deal.

"Even more concerning is the fundamental misreading and narrowing of nature of the Good Friday Agreement. The Agreement is about more than the Principle of Consent, it is about preserving the balance of relationships throughout these islands.

"The backstop is not anti-democratic. Nor it is something imposed from the outside. It is supported by the majority of people in Northern Ireland on a cross-community basis.

"By contrast, we welcome today's recommitment from Donald Tusk to the integrity of the backstop. It is disappointing the UK Government does not have the same understanding as to what is at stake as the EU."


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