Alliance Brexit Spokesperson and Deputy Leader, Stephen Farry MLA has strongly criticised the UK Government for squandering the last six months and risking a catastrophic no deal Brexit, ahead of what should be a crucial European Council meeting.
Calling on the UK Government to get a reality check around the need to sign up to the proposed backstop, Dr Farry added they should be going into this landmark European Council having already made substantial progress on its aim to conclude a Withdrawal Agreement.
He added: “Instead, the Government has squandered the past six months, focusing more on papering over the cracks in the Conservative Party, letting the DUP tail wag the dog, trying to unpick the commitments already made, engaging in a surreal sideshow of devising convoluted and unworkable proposals, and insulting the business community and anyone else who raises concerns.
“As things stand, the UK is set to crash out of the EU with no deal. That would be catastrophic for the UK as a whole and in particular in Northern Ireland.
“The only route to the Withdrawal Agreement and the Transition deal to December 2020 depend on putting the backstop agreed by the UK and the EU back in December. Or to put it another way, there can no wider deal without addressing the Northern Ireland – Ireland border.
“For us in Northern Ireland, while we should recognise that the backstop is not perfect, it does nevertheless represent a foundation on which we can build. Alliance has been promoting the ‘bridges not borders’ concept. It is possible for us to be a bridge between the UK and the EU and to obtain significant comparative advantages from that.
“The backstop is only intended to be an insurance policy. It doesn’t negate the potential for a wider and comprehensive UK-EU relationship to be created.
“The sooner the UK Government comes to this realisation the better.”