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Backstop hangs over Northern Ireland like a Sword of Damocles – Jim Nicholson MEP

Ulster Unionist MEP, Jim Nicholson, has called on the Government and the DUP to go back to the drawing board over the EU backstop.

Jim Nicholson MEP said:

“The disastrous inclusion of the backstop in the December EU-UK joint report has been a millstone around the neck of the Brexit negotiations. The fact that the DUP allowed it to happen is a question which they will have to answer given their partnership with the Conservative Party. It is being used by the Irish Government and the EU negotiating team as a means to undermine the Belfast Agreement and the principle of consent with the Taoiseach launching repeated verbal assaults. And now the chickens have come home to roost. If this is allowed to proceed it will be disastrous for Northern Ireland and our position in the United Kingdom.

“What exactly have the DUP been doing all these months when they were telling us that they were in control and boasted about the enormous power and influence they wielded in 10 Downing Street? The government and the DUP need to go back to the drawing board. Instead of facilitating the backstop, the government should make clear that the EU needs to move its position on the backstop so that we can achieve a sensible deal for the benefit of all our people. The backstop in whatever format it is presented is totally unacceptable to unionists. The constitutional integrity of the United Kingdom should not be up for negotiation no matter how much Leo Varadkar may wish it so. The Government and the DUP should not let the backstop perpetually hang over Northern Ireland and the integrity of the United Kingdom like a Sword of Damocles. Their handling of this has been weak and inept which, if not reversed, will have dire consequences further down the road.

“If this is agreed now to facilitate trade negotiations but pushes the backstop problem down the line a couple of years, it will come back to haunt the United Kingdom as a whole and Northern Ireland in particular when the transition period ends in 2020. What happens then? Do not underestimate the potential consequences which that will have. Theresa May might not even be Prime Minister by then.  It will have huge consequences for our country and if not handled correctly will provide succour for those whose long established aim is to break up the United Kingdom. The backstop problem needs addressed and dealt with now.”

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