Ireland accuses UK of 'backsliding' on border backstop
Brexit Ireland accuses UK of 'backsliding' on border backstop
Adrian OâNeill says post-Brexit arrangement for open border is âcrucial safety netâ to Good Friday agreement
Ireland has expressed concern that the British government is âbackslidingâ on Theresa Mayâs firm commitment to sign up to a backstop promise for the Irish border that would guarantee the open border remains after Brexit in the eve nt of no deal.Theresa May chairs Brexit cabinet as EU says no deal 'more likely than ever before' - Politics live Read more
In an unusually outspoken speech, Adrian OâNeill, the Irish ambassador to the UK, told an audience of British civil servants and EU embassy officials he was alarmed that some Brexiter MPs think the backstop was not even necessary.
âWe are concerned [about] certain things which were agreed in December and repeated in March,â the ambassador said in reference to the deal May struck with the EU in December and her signing of the draft withdrawal agreement in March.
âThere seems to be some degree of backsliding on those, in so far as this demand for a time-limited version of a backstop is not consistent with what was agreed in December and March and we are concerned by that,â he added.
That there was still no deal on the Irish border, nine months after the prime minister had signed up to the backstop opti on, was âboth disappointing and concerningâ, OâNeill said.
He said that it was unlikely there could be a deal in the next 48 hours, and the âmost benignâ outcome of the European council was that the prime minister would make a speech that bettered the EU27âs understanding of her position âand that would lead to renewed impetus in negotiationsâ.
âTime is not on our side, and with each passing day we grow increasingly concerned that decisive progress on Northern Ireland has not made,â he said.Sinn FÃ©in wants Northern Ireland vote in event of no-deal Brexit Read more
âIt is even more concerning that we hear comments in some quarters here that the backstop is unnecessary,â OâNeill added. A no-deal hard border he said, had the capacity to âdisturb the delicate and complex balance of the Good Friday agreement and disrupt the fragile peaceâ.
The backstop, he said, was a âcrucial safety netâ for the 1998 Good Fri day agreement, which brought peace to Northern Ireland.
âWe should be in no doubt that the prospect of Brexit, especially a hard Brexit, or a no-deal Brexit, is causing genuine anxiety in Northern Ireland,â said OâNeill.
He pointed out that Theresa May had committed to a backstop back in December with no mention of a time limit to it, an idea that the Irish deputy prime minister, Simon Coveney, has said is a âdeal-breakerâ.
Sources within the EU express frustration that the time-limit idea had already been dismissed after it was put forward in June as part of Theresa Mayâs pre-Chequers customs proposals.
The time limit was inserted under pressure from hard Brexiters who threatened to resign if there was an open-ended backstop, but back-channel communications from Downing Street to EU officials suggested this was not something May was committed to.Topics
- Northern Ireland
- Good Friday agreement
- European Union
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