Belfast Telegraph

France urges Britain to sign up to Withdrawal Agreement

Europe minister Amelie de Montchalin visited the Irish border on Friday and said she had seen first hand the importance of an ordered Brexit.

French Europe minister Amelie de Montchalin and her Irish counterpart Helen McEntee visited the Irish border (Brian Lawless/PA)
French Europe minister Amelie de Montchalin and her Irish counterpart Helen McEntee visited the Irish border (Brian Lawless/PA)

The French government has urged Britain to sign up to the draft EU Withdrawal Agreement.

Europe minister Amelie de Montchalin visited the Irish border on Friday and said she had seen at first hand the importance of an ordered Brexit to protect the bloc’s internal market and the Irish peace process.

Frontrunner for the Conservative Party leadership Boris Johnson has said he wants to scrap the border backstop which stymied efforts to get Prime Minister Theresa May’s proposed solution through Westminster.

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The French and Irish ministers visited the invisible frontier at Ravensdale in Co Louth, differences in road markings the only visible sign, as well as a local farm (Brian Lawless/PA)

Ms de Montchalin said: “To protect the integrity of the internal market and to have the peace process and the Irish concerns being overcome, the best thing we have on the table is the Withdrawal Agreement.

“It was very important to see the necessity, more than ever, of this agreement and this ordered Brexit to happen.”

She visited the invisible frontier at Ravensdale in Co Louth, where differences in road markings are the only visible sign, as well as a local farm.

Her Irish counterpart, Helen McEntee, said checks following a no-deal Brexit would be “sub-optimal” to the backstop.

“The best way to avoid all of that is for the UK to ratify the withdrawal Agreement, an agreement which they helped to negotiate and which really addresses a lot of their concerns as well,” she said.

The DUP opposed Parliament’s ratification of Mrs May’s draft Withdrawal Agreement earlier this year over concerns surrounding the backstop insurance policy.

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Irish Minister of State for European Affairs Helen McEntee, left, and Amelie de Montchalin during a visit to the old Ravensdale border crossing (Brian Lawless/PA)

That would see Northern Ireland remain aligned to EU regulations after the UK’s withdrawal to prevent the imposition of a hard border on the island.

Unionists want it to be time-limited but proponents of the measure argue that to impose a cut-off point would make it a meaningless guarantee.

Both sides agree a full trade agreement between the UK and EU would be preferable.

The Democratic Unionists believe the backstop would threaten the integrity of the UK and Northern Ireland’s seamless links with Great Britain.

PA

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