Belfast Telegraph

Downing Street rejects claim PM wants to change Good Friday Agreement

Prime Minister Theresa May (Yui Mok/PA)
Prime Minister Theresa May (Yui Mok/PA)
Gareth Cross

By Gareth Cross

Downing Street has moved quickly to deny claims Prime Minister Theresa May is considering changing the Good Friday Agreement in an attempt to find a Brexit solution.

The Daily Telegraph reported Mrs May could amend the 1998 Agreement to include a commitment to no hard border between the UK and the Republic after Brexit as a way of removing the controversial Irish backstop from her withdrawal agreement.

However, Number 10 sources have indicated that the report is false and the Prime Minister has no intention of revisiting the agreement, a key part of Northern Ireland's peace process.

Any changes to the agreement would need the support of the Irish government and political parties in Northern ireland.

The report was heavily criticised.

Sinn Fein vice president Michelle O'Neill said there would be "no rewriting" of the Agreement, and that it was an "international treaty, lodged at the UN".

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood saying the agreement was "not a bargaining chip to be used by a chaotic British Government as a way to dig themselves out of a mess of their own creation".

Speaking on Monday morning, Irish Minister for Europe Helen McEntee said changes to the peace agreement - endorsed by people in both Northern Ireland the Republic - was "not something" the Irish Government would consider.

Brexit negotiations have been repeatedly stifled by the backstop, with the DUP saying the plan would create a trade border in the Irish Sea and leave Northern Ireland tied to Brussels indefinitely.

The EU and Irish Government have insisted that the backstop must form part of any withdrawal agreement.

John Hume with Bono and David Trimble campaigning for the Good Friday Agreement
John Hume with Bono and David Trimble campaigning for the Good Friday Agreement

Mrs May's Brexit deal was overwhelmingly rejected by MPs last week, and she will present her 'Plan B' to the House of Commons on Monday.

Time is running out to secure a deal, with the UK set to exit the European Union on March 29.

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