Backstop cannot be removed from Withdrawal Agreement, says Long

The proposed backstop cannot be removed from the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement, Alliance Leader Naomi Long MLA has said.

Mrs Long was speaking after meeting Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in Belfast. She said it was a positive meeting in which she outlined the concerns of people here around proposed changes to the backstop following last week’s vote in the House of Commons.

“Earlier this week, we met with the Prime Minister and told her the facts – a no deal Brexit is catastrophic and a permanent, backstop is required as part of the Withdrawal Agreement. It was reassuring to hear from the Taoiseach he agrees on those points, with Mr Varadkar again giving his commitment to the backstop in particular,” she said.

“We are now less than 50 days until the scheduled date of Brexit and still have no clarity around the way forward from the UK Government, other than pie in the sky talk of ‘alternative arrangements’. Businesses, farmers, civic society and others need certainty and need it now before the cliff edge of a no deal gets any closer.

“Part of that certainty can be achieved by the return of devolution. While differences remain between the parties, we also reiterated to the Taoiseach we believe a reinvigorated talks process chaired by an independent facilitator is the only way to get that.”

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