The DUP and the backstop
Sir, – Pat Leahy reports that Arlene Foster regards the backstop as “anti-democratic and unconstitutional and has to go” (“DUP signals possible Brexit compromise”, News, September 19th).
It would, of course, be extremely useful if the DUP could be more precise as to exactly what part of the UK’s unwritten and uncodified constitution the backstop undermines. The constitutional position of Northern Ireland is fully protected by the Belfast Agreement and guaranteed by both the British and Irish governments under the principle of consent. One could argue that, under the Northern Ireland Constitution Act, 1973, the backstop has legitimacy, coming as it appears under “excepted and reserved matters” for the UK government, in particular “international relations and certain topics covered by the European Communities Act”. As regards being undemocratic, one solution could be for the electorate in Northern Ireland, having already voted to remain in the EU, to be now asked for their view on the backstop. – Yours, etc,