Those who believe the EU will “change course” over the proposed Brexit backstop are deluding themselves, Alliance Deputy Leader Stephen Farry MLA has said.
Dr Farry was speaking after EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said the backstop was the “maximum flexibility” the EU could offer, rejecting demands from Prime Minister Boris Johnson for it to be removed.
“This is a welcome recommitment from Michel Barnier to the backstop. It shouldn’t come as any surprise, as the EU has been clear and consistent on this point throughout negotiations,” said the North Down MLA.
“Those who believe the threat of a no deal is a viable negotiating strategy or believe EU leaders are going to change course at the 11th hour are deluding themselves. Dangerous decisions are taken by those who believe their own propaganda. The room for negotiation lies around the Political Declaration or reverting from the UK-wide backstop to a Northern Ireland-only mechanism.
“The backstop is not a constitutional matter and consistent with Principle of Consent. There is consistent evidence it is supported by a clear majority of people. It is not imposed on Northern Ireland, but rather a response to the particular context of Northern Ireland and the need to protect the Good Friday Agreement in all its parts.
“The backstop is much more than just avoiding a return of a hard border – a point seemingly lost on those seeking to devise alternative arrangements.
“As the grandstanding and dishonesty of the current Johnson administration deepens, the case for the backstop is reinforced. It would be much more difficult to take any assurances from this UK Government on trust.”