Alternative arrangements can’t replace backstop, says Farry

Alliance Deputy Leader Stephen Farry MLA has said a report into alternative arrangements around the border in the event of Brexit is “based on a false premise”.

Dr Farry was speaking after leading an Alliance delegation to meet the Alternative Arrangements Working Group and discuss their interim report. He said the UK had got itself into a mess around Brexit, needlessly inflating the backstop into a constitutional crisis.

“While the authors of this report have sought to be creative, their recommendations come up short. The report is based on a false premise of trying to replace the backstop. We are a Remain party, but regard the backstop as only the bare minimum of an insurance policy in the event Northern Ireland is dragged out of the EU against the will of the people,” he said.

“The backstop has become needlessly dramatised in UK domestic politics rather than being rightly viewed as a pragmatic intervention building on existing precedents. It is not too late for a Prime Minister to show responsible leadership of this point.

“The only reliable means to avoid a hard border is there being sufficient customs and regulatory alignment between the two jurisdictions on the island of Ireland. This is simply no getting around this. Technology can only take things so far, but can’t remove the need for physical checks, and relocating those checks from a border only serves to move the border.

“There is little regard for the need for significant additional resources to implement the measures in this report, and consideration for the further bureaucratic compliance costs which involve a disproportionate impact of small businesses.

“The UK cannot unilaterally declare itself in compliance with EU animal health and food security rules, and even if it runs equivalent rules, this would not eliminate the need for checks, and the notion Ireland would ever move outside part of the Single Market is not credible.”