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Brexit: Lord Trimble to take government to court over Irish backstop, saying it breaches Good Friday Agreement

Lord Trimble
Lord Trimble
Lord Trimble

Former Northern Ireland first minister Lord Trimble is threatening to take the Government to court over the controversial Brexit backstop.

Lord Trimble said that he and others are planning to initiate judicial review proceedings over an alleged breach of the Good Friday Agreement.

The former leader of the Ulster Unionist Party - currently sitting in the House of Lords as a Conservative peer - said the proceedings would demand the removal of the protocol on Northern Ireland from Prime Minister Theresa May's Withdrawal Agreement.

He said that the backstop should be replaced by alternative arrangements set out in a report entitled A Better Deal and A Better Future authored by Eurosceptic Conservative MP Steve Baker and published by the Global Britain group.

A spokesman for Lord Trimble was unable immediately to provide an explanation for the claim that the protocol breaches the Good Friday Agreement.

The former UUP leader was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his part in the negotiations leading to the 1998 Agreement which provided the framework for a return to peace in Northern Ireland following the Troubles.

EU negotiators have argued that, until a broader trade deal is in place, the backstop is essential to safeguard the Good Friday Agreement by preventing the creation of a hard border on the island of Ireland.

Meanwhile, the DUP has revealed leader Arlene Foster will hold talks with Theresa May in Belfast on Wednesday.

Mrs Foster said she would tell the PM that the proposed backstop "drives a coach and horses through the Belfast Agreement's principle of consent" and would effectively create a new border between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.

"Parliament has spoken," said Mrs Foster. "A majority has rejected the current backstop. The European Union must now accept the need for the withdrawal agreement to be reopened. The toxic backstop must be dealt with."

Mrs Foster said that the DUP wants "an orderly exit from the European Union which works for London, Dublin, Belfast and Brussels".

"It is possible but requires political will," she said. "This is not a time for intransigence. It is time to respect unionists and nationalists alike in Northern Ireland and deliver a deal which is sensible and practical."

Mrs Foster said she was "encouraged" by comments from EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier and Irish deputy prime minister Simon Coveney suggesting that they believe "a hard border can be avoided in any circumstance".

"It is important that the scaremongering about barbed wire and checkpoints is exposed as nonsense," she said. "Border communities should not have genuine fears exploited with such tall tales."

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