DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds rails against backstop ‘con trick’

Dodds: ‘Even in the event of a so-called no-deal scenario a hard border won’t happen’

DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds: “Hypocrisy of those espousing the current withdrawal agreement with its trap of a backstop has been completely exposed.”

DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds: “Hypocrisy of those espousing the current withdrawal agreement with its trap of a backstop has been completely exposed.”

 

The Government’s contingency plan for a no-deal Brexit demonstrated that the demands for a backstop to avoid a hard border with Northern Ireland are an “utter con trick”, DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds has said.

The MP said Dublin had “admitted” there would be no Border checks on goods, while the European Commission in its planning “avoids spelling out what happens on the Border”.

“What does that tell you?” he asked. “Even in the event of a so-called no-deal scenario a hard border won’t happen. The notion that it’s necessary to have a border and checks in the Irish Sea to avoid a Border between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic is an utter con trick.”

The DUP deputy leader said the “utter hypocrisy of those espousing the current withdrawal agreement with its trap of a backstop has been completely exposed”.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney said the Government was not planning for a hard border. But he warned that avoiding one border would be “very difficult” if the United Kingdom quits without a deal in late March.

‘Serious chaos’

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood said the Government’s “robust” preparations are “a stark indication of the serious chaos that awaits if the UK government fails to get a deal through Westminster”.

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“This action rightly highlights that the island of Ireland will be disproportionately impacted by Brexit, leaving Northern Ireland sharing a land Border with another EU state. Despite myths peddled by Brexiteers, this leaves Ireland in a very precarious position,” he added.

“These plans, in contrast to the weak technical papers issued by the British government and the absence of any action from Stormont, at least acknowledge the state of affairs as they are,” he said. “It is next to impossible that the British government will get a better deal, at least not one that is good for people here. That is why the SDLP have consistently said, that regardless of where we are post-March 29th, the backstop must be in place to protect the future interests of people here.”

Director of the Confederation of British Industry in Northern Ireland Angela McGowan said a no-deal UK departure would be extremely damaging to businesses across Ireland.

“With less than 100 days to go until the UK leaves the EU, it’s time to restore confidence in politics and our economy,” she said. “Politicians on all sides must finally stop the endless infighting of the past 30 months and come together to secure a workable Brexit deal – we’ve all had enough of the chaos.”

Business concerns

She also warned that “uncertainty is throttling firms and threatening jobs across the island of Ireland – not in the future but right now. We need to know for certain that a no-deal Brexit will not happen because until we receive assurances on that, damage to investment, jobs and future growth will continue.”

“Over 85 per cent of businesses and organisations surveyed in Northern Ireland have made their views clear: a backstop is better than a no-deal scenario,” added Ms McGowan.

Meanwhile, Sinn Féin Northern leader Michelle O’Neill repeated her party’s call for a Border poll on Irish unity in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

After speaking to Northern Secretary Karen Bradley on Thursday Ms O’Neill said Sinn Féin would continue to work with the Government and other EU members “to protect the Good Friday agreement and protect the backstop against any return to a hard border”.

“However, if Westminster insists on a no-deal crash-out Brexit then the only sensible, logical and rational response is the people should have their say in a referendum on Irish reunification in line with the Good Friday agreement,” she said. “This would provide a pathway for the North to be readmitted to the European Union. ”