BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - FEBRUARY 05: British Prime Minister Theresa May makes a speech during a visit to Allstate Northern Ireland on February 5, 2019 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Mrs May's speech will pledge to avoid a hard border in Ireland following Brexit. (Photo by Liam McBurney - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
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May pledges not to remove backstop in Brexit talks

2 mins read

Last night, Theresa May reaffirmed that she will not be seeking to remove the Irish backstop from her Brexit deal.

Whilst speaking in Belfast, May insisted there was “no suggestion” that Britain would leave the EU without a guarantee that there would be no hard border in Northern Ireland.

The backstop is an insurance policy created to avoid any possibility of a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic after Brexit.

Brexiteers have made it clear they want rid of the backstop and May’s speech will be sure to anger many within the Conservative party. In particular, the Eurosceptic European Research Group (ERG).

The backstop has also created a rift between May and her parliamentary backers, the DUP.

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Arlene Foster has been critical of the current backstop arrangement. Source: Politico.eu

Arlene Foster, leader of the DUP, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Tuesday morning that “the current backstop, as I’ve said all along, is toxic to those of us living in Northern Ireland and indeed for Unionists right across the United Kingdom because it would cause the break-up of the United Kingdom in the medium and longer term.”

The Prime Minister said that she was “grateful” to those who supported the backstop in the withdrawal agreement.

The backstop has been a constant talking point within the context of Brexit and its complicated nature has left many fearing that it could undo a lot of progress made in Northern Ireland with the Good Friday Agreement.

David Trimble, a Conservative peer who won the 1998 Nobel Peace Prize for his role in the Good Friday peace deal, has threatened to take the UK government to court over the backstop. He claims that it is in breach of the agreement.

Mrs May is due to meet the European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker for talks in Brussels on Thursday. Junker and European council president Donald Tusk have been adamant that they are not open to re-negotiations of the withdrawal agreement.

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