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Backstop is about protecting Northern Ireland, stresses Farry

Alliance Brexit spokesperson Stephen Farry MLA has said the proposed backstop is about protecting Northern Ireland from the damaging effects of Brexit, after the Prime Minister criticised it.

A letter from Boris Johnson to European Council President Donald Tusk states the Prime Minister’s belief it risked undermining the peace process. However, Mr Tusk said those opposing it without “realistic alternatives” supported having a hard border instead.

“The backstop has been negotiated and agreed by the EU and the previous UK Government for good reasons, namely to recognise and respond to the particular and severe challenges posed to Northern Ireland by Brexit. It is designed to protect the Good Friday Agreement,” said Dr Farry.

“The complete rejection of the backstop by Boris Johnson is reckless and disingenuous. There is no prospect of the backstop being removed or renegotiated. His scope to move lies around the political declaration and his current stance amounts to the pursuit of a catastrophic no deal.

“Even more concerning is the fundamental misreading and narrowing of nature of the Good Friday Agreement. The Agreement is about more than the Principle of Consent, it is about preserving the balance of relationships throughout these islands.

“The backstop is not anti-democratic. Nor it is something imposed from the outside. It is supported by the majority of people in Northern Ireland on a cross-community basis.

“By contrast, we welcome today’s recommitment from Donald Tusk to the integrity of the backstop. It is disappointing the UK Government does not have the same understanding as to what is at stake as the EU.”