Bradley says draft Brexit deal offers safeguards around backstop

DUP’s Jim Shannon claims the endorsement of the deal by the Ulster Farmers’ Union had not been cleared at the highest level

Northern Secretary Karen Bradley at  the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee in  London. Photograph: PA/PA Wire

Northern Secretary Karen Bradley at the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee in London. Photograph: PA/PA Wire

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Northern Secretary Karen Bradley has defended the draft Brexit withdrawal agreement from claims that it undermines the North’s place in the UK. She told the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee that the agreement offered safeguards surrounding the backstop that should reassure unionists.

“The safeguards put in place, the reassurances given, the way that the EU dislikes the backstop means as a legal construct, not as a person or country, there is no way that there will be a situation where we can be bound into the backstop indefinitely,” she said.

“The right thing to do is to accept the deal and to get the future relationship, and make sure we never go into the backstop in any way.”

Ms Bradley said if the backstop did come into operation it would put Northern Ireland businesses in “a remarkably beneficial position”. The backstop offered some advantages over extending the post-Brexit transition, including the fact that it did not require Britain to offer free movement to EU citizens.

Northern Irish business and farming groups have welcomed the draft withdrawal agreement, but the DUP’s Jim Shannon claimed that the Ulster Farmers’ Union’s endorsement had not been cleared at the highest level and did not reflect the views of its members.

He suggested that Ms Bradley was listening to too limited a range of views on the deal in Northern Ireland. “If you don’t cast your net wider and seek opinions of other people and stop seeking the... one blinkered opinion, which it is clear to me that some people are pursuing, then you are going to get a very rude awakening.”

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