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Brexit: Northern Ireland political parties reject DUP's time-limited backstop idea

 

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Michelle O’Neill and Colum Eastwood

Michelle O’Neill and Colum Eastwood

The backstop is designed to prevent a hard border

The backstop is designed to prevent a hard border

AFP/Getty Images

Michelle O’Neill and Colum Eastwood

Political parties have rejected DUP leader Arlene Foster's suggestion that a time-limited backstop could be the key to solving the Brexit impasse.

While she described the backstop as anti-democratic, Ms Foster said her party would "look at" a time-limited version in order to get a deal by October 31.

The proposal would put a deadline on the arrangement, which is designed to prevent a hard border on the island of Ireland by keeping the UK in the EU customs union and Northern Ireland in large parts of the single market.

"And so in terms of the time-limited backstop, we have said in the past it is something we would look at," Mrs Foster told a fringe event at the Conservative Party conference.

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Comments: Arlene Foster

Comments: Arlene Foster

Comments: Arlene Foster

"I don't think it is something that Leo Varadkar would look at, but certainly if a time-limited backstop was on offer it is something that we would look at but I don't believe it is at this present moment in time."

The Irish Government has previously rejected such a proposal.

A time-limited backstop was also not given a warm reaction by other political parties in Northern Ireland.

Sinn Fein vice president Michelle O'Neill said the suggestion is "unacceptable".

“A backstop which is time limited ceases to be a backstop," she said.

“The backstop as negotiated contains the bare minimum of protections required as an insurance policy for our business sector and for people in the north.

Jim Allister

“The EU have already made it clear that the backstop is not up for renegotiation. The protections contained in the backstop must be maintained and the DUP cannot change that.”

This view was also shared by SDLP leader Colum Eastwood, who responded to the DUP leader's suggestion on Twitter, writing: "Same oul nonsense then. A backstop isn't a backstop if it's time limited."

The Government has also confirmed that a time-limited backstop is one of several proposals being considered in order to secure a Brexit deal.

TUV leader Jim Allister said the problem of the backstop is not a matter of duration, but of content.

"It puts us in the EU single market and, as a consequence, establishes a regulatory border down the Irish Sea. If that is not toxic and unacceptable in and of itself, then it is not a matter of time. It's toxic for one day, never mind one year," he told BBC Radio Ulster's Nolan Show.

"I doubt very much if it would ever be lifted, because you would get to the point where the focus would then move to all this 'project fear' nonsense, built around the date when the backstop is supposed to end."

"Now is time for us to stand against this anti-democratic backstop and, if the Prime Minister is right that it is anti-democratic, then it is anti-democratic every day it operates, whether it is long or short."

Belfast Telegraph