The Prime Minister needs to stop portraying the Brexit backstop as a political and constitutional problem, Alliance Deputy Leader Stephen Farry MLA has said.
Dr Farry was speaking after taking part in an Alliance delegation meeting Theresa May, a discussion he described as “frank”. He added they had also raised a number of other issues relating to the political impasse here.
“We had a very frank discussion with the Prime Minister. It is important she listens to all voices across the community in a balanced way,” he said.
“On Brexit, we stressed the need for her to de-escalate the language around the backstop. In her remarks today, the Prime Minister ramped up the rhetoric and wrongly portrayed it as a political and constitutional problem, rather than presenting it in practical terms. The backstop is only necessary as a safety net until a better arrangement comes along. It is anything but a threat to the Good Friday Agreement, rather it recognises and protects Northern Ireland’s unique circumstances.
“The UK Government has had plenty of time to find a genuine and realistic alternative to the EU’s legal text on the backstop, but even at this late stage we are open to considering any different approaches maintaining an open border, protecting the GFA and empowering the local economy.
“We also called for the Prime Minister to provide leadership in ending the dangerous drift in Northern Ireland politics – a situation that is increasingly being exploited. In particular, we urged her to ensure MLA’s salaries are cut and an independent facilitator for talks is appointed as a matter of urgency in order to kickstart a fresh process.”