Alliance Brexit spokesperson Stephen Farry MLA has hit out at the foot-dragging of the UK Government over concluding the Brexit backstop and the bravado from the DUP over a no deal scenario.
He said: “Behind all the spin and bluster coming out of London, if people are serious about avoiding a hard border in Ireland, there are only two means by which can be achieved. The first is through the UK as a whole staying inside a Customs Union with the EU and staying in the Single Market. The second is through special arrangements for Northern Ireland. The former would be preferable for the UK, including Northern Ireland, while the latter can be made to work.
“Concluding an agreement on the backstop is central to any Withdrawal Agreement and Transition Deal. It needs to be open-ended and all-weather. The UK Government has already agreed the ‘until and unless’ language with the EU. So much of the current posturing represents an act of bad faith. The backstop is not a solution in itself but provides a safety-net to avoid a hard border. In turn, it may well inform the future relationship.
“A no deal outcome is not in anyone’s interests. But bravado from the UK Government or DUP doesn’t have any credibility. The UK is much more exposed from a no deal than the EU. It would be particularly devastating for Northern Ireland, and overnight pose immediate and significant problems for key sectors in manufacturing and agri-food. It would also further undermine the political cohesion and stability of this region.
“Alliance is happy for all or elements of the backstop to be extended UK-wide. That makes reassurances more comprehensive. Review of the backstop is already implicit as the EU and UK would jointly agree any future relationship that would override it. However, the clear bottom line to protect the Good Friday Agreement must be that backstop is open-ended and all weather.”