Prime Minister pandering to blinkered DUP approach on Brexit backstop risks agreement, says Farry

Alliance Brexit spokesperson Stephen Farry MLA has said the Prime Minister has passed up an opportunity to show leadership on Brexit, instead pandering to a DUP approach.

Dr Farry said Theresa May had also chosen to once again reinforce mutually incompatible red lines on the issue, putting in danger any withdrawal agreement and transition deal.

“This Government is now a complete shambles, with major resignations and the Prime Minister trying to sell a Brexit plan that is incoherent, bureaucratic and economically damaging, with no chance of it being accepted.

“With no viable plan and in chaos, the UK is ever closer to the cliff-edge of a no deal outcome on Brexit with all of the catastrophic economic and security implications. There is a majority within the House of Commons for a genuine soft Brexit around membership of the European Economic Area and a new Customs Union, but it is not being enabled to find its collective voice.

“However rather than breaking through her contradictory red lines, she has further reinforced them. The stark reality is much of the Chequers plan and forthcoming white paper is about the future relationship. The immediate challenge is to sign up to the backstop. There can be no withdrawal agreement or transition deal around this.

“While signing up to the December Joint Report, the Prime Minister has consistently rejected the EU’s proposed legal text without offering any credible alternative. The ambiguity in the Chequers plan has now been resolved through once again pandering to the DUP’s blinkered approach.

“The backstop does need to be viewed in pragmatic and practical terms. It is only available to Northern Ireland not the UK as a whole. It is an insurance policy arising from the UK’s decision to leave the EU and the necessity of ensuring an open border between Ireland and Northern Ireland. Contrary to what the Prime Minister says, it is entirely consistent with devolution, the principle of consent, and the current constitutional position, and builds on existing precedents.

“While not perfect, it is a foundation on which to build a future relationship based around bridges not borders. There is a real danger a short-sighted and blinkered approach now could amount to passing up an important opportunity for this region to better position itself economically.”

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