Belfast Telegraph

Boris Johnson has treated Good Friday Agreement in careless manner, says Lady Hermon

Sylvia Hermon claimed the Crown Solicitor's Office in Belfast has advised the government a no-deal Brexit would be in contravention of the Good Friday Agreement.

Sylvia Hermon speaking during the debate in the House of Commons.
Sylvia Hermon speaking during the debate in the House of Commons.

North Down MP Sylvia Hermon has told Boris Johnson that he owes an explanation to the people of Northern Ireland on why he and his government have treated the Good Friday Agreement in a "careless and cavalier manner".

Lady Hermon made the comments during a debate in the House of Commons as MPs look to take control of Commons business to allow them to discuss proposed legislation to block a no-deal Brexit.

Lady Hermon, who sits as an independent, said: "I think the Prime Minister owes the people of Northern Ireland an explanation as to why he and his government have treated the Good Friday Agreement (GFA), the Belfast Agreement, in such a careless and cavalier manner.

"That agreement has kept peace and stability in Northern Ireland since it was signed 21 years ago. 

"It is reported that the Crown Solicitor's Office in Belfast has advised the government that a no-deal Brexit would be in contravention of the GFA.

"I am calling on the Prime Minister to publish today, in full- and he owes that to the people of Northern Ireland, and certainly to this house- any legal advice he has received from the Crown Solicitors' office about how a no-deal Brexit will contravene the agreement."

The Prime Minister responded, saying that it was actually the controversial backstop and the withdrawal agreement itself that undermines the "balance of the Good Friday Agreement".

"After all, in important matters it gives a greater preponderance to the voice of Dublin in the affairs of Northern Ireland than it does to the UK, the UK having left the EU. That is a simple fact and I don't think it is widely enough understood," he said.

"That is one of the reasons why the withdrawal agreement itself is in conflict with the GFA. As for the advice she mentioned, I have not seen any such advice."

Cross-party MPs called the emergency debate in a bid to take control of Commons business on Wednesday in order to debate a new law which would block a no-deal Brexit.

The legislation put forward by the cross-party group, led by the Labour MP and Brexit Select Committee chairman Hilary Benn and Tory former Foreign Office minister Alistair Burt would require a delay to Brexit unless there was a deal or Parliament explicitly backed leaving the EU without one by October 19.

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