Belfast Telegraph

Taoiseach: Irish border backstop guarantees relationship between UK and EU

Leo Varadkar addressed the West Belfast Feile festival.

Feile Leaders Debate took place in St, Marys University College in West Belfast, Northern Ireland. Naomi Long MEP Alliance Party pictured taking part in the Leaders Debate in Belfast. Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker.
Feile Leaders Debate took place in St, Marys University College in West Belfast, Northern Ireland. Naomi Long MEP Alliance Party pictured taking part in the Leaders Debate in Belfast. Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker.
Pacemaker Press 06-08-2019: Féile an Phobail is Ireland's biggest community arts festival. Feile Leaders Debate took place in St, Marys University College in West Belfast, Northern Ireland. Taoiseach Leo Varadkar pictured taking part in the Leaders Debate in Belfast. Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker.
Pacemaker Press 06-08-2019: Féile an Phobail is Ireland's biggest community arts festival. Feile Leaders Debate took place in St, Marys University College in West Belfast, Northern Ireland. Taoiseach Leo Varadkar pictured taking part in the Leaders Debate in Belfast. Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker.
Pacemaker Press 06-08-2019: Féile an Phobail is Ireland's biggest community arts festival. Feile Leaders Debate took place in St, Marys University College in West Belfast, Northern Ireland. Taoiseach Leo Varadkar pictured arriving for the Leaders Debate in Belfast. Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker.
Pacemaker Press 06-08-2019: Féile an Phobail is Ireland's biggest community arts festival. Feile Leaders Debate took place in St, Marys University College in West Belfast, Northern Ireland. Gregory Campbell MP DUP pictured taking part in the Leaders Debate in Belfast. Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker.
Pacemaker Press 06-08-2019: Féile an Phobail is Ireland's biggest community arts festival. Feile Leaders Debate took place in St, Marys University College in West Belfast, Northern Ireland. Taoiseach Leo Varadkar pictured arriving for the Leaders Debate in Belfast. Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker.
Pacemaker Press 06-08-2019: Féile an Phobail is Ireland's biggest community arts festival. Feile Leaders Debate took place in St, Marys University College in West Belfast, Northern Ireland. Taoiseach Leo Varadkar pictured taking part in the Leaders Debate in Belfast. Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker.
Pacemaker Press 06-08-2019: Féile an Phobail is Ireland's biggest community arts festival. Feile Leaders Debate took place in St, Marys University College in West Belfast, Northern Ireland. Taoiseach Leo Varadkar pictured taking part in the Leaders Debate in Belfast. Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker.
Pacemaker Press 06-08-2019: Féile an Phobail is Ireland's biggest community arts festival. Feile Leaders Debate took place in St, Marys University College in West Belfast, Northern Ireland. Taoiseach Leo Varadkar pictured taking part in the Leaders Debate in Belfast. Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker.
Pacemaker Press 06-08-2019: Féile an Phobail is Ireland's biggest community arts festival. Feile Leaders Debate took place in St, Marys University College in West Belfast, Northern Ireland. Taoiseach Leo Varadkar pictured taking part in the Leaders Debate in Belfast. Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker.
Pacemaker Press 06-08-2019: Féile an Phobail is Ireland's biggest community arts festival. Feile Leaders Debate took place in St, Marys University College in West Belfast, Northern Ireland. Taoiseach Leo Varadkar pictured taking part in the Leaders Debate in Belfast. Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker.
Pacemaker Press 06-08-2019: Féile an Phobail is Ireland's biggest community arts festival. Feile Leaders Debate took place in St, Marys University College in West Belfast, Northern Ireland. Taoiseach Leo Varadkar pictured taking part in the Leaders Debate in Belfast. Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker.
Pacemaker Press 06-08-2019: Féile an Phobail is Ireland's biggest community arts festival. Feile Leaders Debate took place in St, Marys University College in West Belfast, Northern Ireland. Naomi Long MEP Alliance Party pictured taking part in the Leaders Debate in Belfast. Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker.
Pacemaker Press 06-08-2019: Féile an Phobail is Ireland's biggest community arts festival. Feile Leaders Debate took place in St, Marys University College in West Belfast, Northern Ireland. Taoiseach Leo Varadkar pictured taking part in the Leaders Debate in Belfast. Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker.
Pacemaker Press 06-08-2019: Féile an Phobail is Ireland's biggest community arts festival. Feile Leaders Debate took place in St, Marys University College in West Belfast, Northern Ireland. Hundreds attend the Leaders Debate in Belfast. Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker.
Pacemaker Press 06-08-2019: Féile an Phobail is Ireland's biggest community arts festival. Feile Leaders Debate took place in St, Marys University College in West Belfast, Northern Ireland. Naomi Long MEP Alliance Party pictured taking part in the Leaders Debate in Belfast. Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker.
Pacemaker Press 06-08-2019: Féile an Phobail is Ireland's biggest community arts festival. Feile Leaders Debate took place in St, Marys University College in West Belfast, Northern Ireland. Hundreds attend the Leaders Debate in Belfast. Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker.
Pacemaker Press 06-08-2019: Féile an Phobail is Ireland's biggest community arts festival. Feile Leaders Debate took place in St, Marys University College in West Belfast, Northern Ireland. Naomi Long MEP Alliance Party pictured taking part in the Leaders Debate in Belfast. Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker.
Pacemaker Press 06-08-2019: Féile an Phobail is Ireland's biggest community arts festival. Feile Leaders Debate took place in St, Marys University College in West Belfast, Northern Ireland. Naomi Long MEP Alliance Party pictured taking part in the Leaders Debate in Belfast. Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker.
Gregory Campbell MP DUP taking part in the Leaders Debate in Belfast. Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker.
Pacemaker Press 06-08-2019: Féile an Phobail is Ireland's biggest community arts festival. Feile Leaders Debate took place in St, Marys University College in West Belfast, Northern Ireland. Protesters pictured outside the Leaders Debate in Belfast. Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker.
Pacemaker Press 06-08-2019: Féile an Phobail is Ireland's biggest community arts festival. Feile Leaders Debate took place in St, Marys University College in West Belfast, Northern Ireland. Gerry Adams pictured at the Leaders Debate in Belfast. Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker.
Pacemaker Press 06-08-2019: Féile an Phobail is Ireland's biggest community arts festival. Feile Leaders Debate took place in St, Marys University College in West Belfast, Northern Ireland. Protesters pictured outside the Leaders Debate in Belfast. Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker.
Pacemaker Press 06-08-2019: Féile an Phobail is Ireland's biggest community arts festival. Feile Leaders Debate took place in St, Marys University College in West Belfast, Northern Ireland. Protesters pictured outside the Leaders Debate in Belfast. Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 6th August 2018 - DUP MP Gregory Campbell and Alliance leader Naomi Long take part in a panel debate in west Belfast alongside other political leaders from across Ireland in Féile an Phobail's Leaders Debate at St Marys University College on the Falls Road. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
DUP MP Gregory Campbell takes part in a panel debate in west Belfast. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 6th August 2018 - DUP MP Gregory Campbell and Féile director Kevin Gamble take part in a panel debate in west Belfast alongside other political leaders from across Ireland in Féile an Phobail's Leaders Debate at St Marys University College on the Falls Road. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.

The Irish border backstop represents a baseline guarantee over the future relationship between the UK and the EU, the Irish Taoiseach said.

Having a withdrawal agreement without the insurance policy mechanism to keep the frontier open if future talks foundered would not provide certainty but would just leave the matter to be dealt with years later, Leo Varadkar added.

He addressed the West Belfast Feile festival on Tuesday evening.

What the backstop has been able to do is set a floor on that future relationship Leo Varadkar

The Irish premier said: “All this is about, in my view, is setting a floor on the future relationship.

“Because we know once the UK leaves the EU, we are going to have to negotiate a free trade agreement, we are going to have to negotiate a new economic and security partnership and we are going to want to.

“What the backstop has been able to do is set a floor on that future relationship.

“It gives us the guarantee that, no matter what else may happen as a consequence of Brexit, we won’t have any restrictions north/south or east/west.”

Mr Varadkar has been a staunch supporter of the proposed backstop, which was agreed between the EU and former UK prime minister Theresa May’s government.

Parliament’s opposition to the measure saw Mrs May fail to get her proposal into law earlier this year.

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Traders in Northern Ireland want to preserve the current frictionless arrangements (Niall Carson/PA)

Traders in Northern Ireland want some mechanism to keep the invisible land border open following Brexit and preserve the current frictionless arrangements.

The backstop would mean the UK and Northern Ireland following EU rules relating to matters such as customs and trade.

Unionists believe it could threaten the integrity of the UK if Northern Ireland were to diverge from Great Britain.

Brexiteers feel it would keep the UK chained to the bloc indefinitely and could prevent it from striking trade deals with other parts of the world.

Mr Varadkar said: “I think there has been a bit of revisionism recently almost suggesting that the Withdrawal Agreement, including the backstop, was something invented in Brussels or Dublin, or something that we tried to impose on the House of Commons.”

He referenced the recent change of ministers in London.

The Taoiseach added: “I was there for the past two years and I know that the Withdrawal Agreement and backstop was something that we co-designed and developed and negotiated.

“There were a lot of trade-offs with Prime Minister May and her government.”

He said that closed off many options and the Withdrawal Agreement was very much crafted around those red lines and represented the best outcome they could reach.

Mr Varadkar met firms in Northern Ireland on Tuesday and said the business community wanted certainty about the future, adding that leaving with no deal did not do that.

He said: “Having a withdrawal agreement without the backstop does not give them certainty either because it just leaves those important questions to be sorted out in a two or three-year transition period.”

That convinced him of the need to ensure the backstop remained part of the withdrawal agreement, he said.

Mr Varadkar said he expected Prime Minister Boris Johnson would take up his invitation to visit Dublin in the next couple of weeks.

“I don’t think we are being intransigent, what I think is somewhat disappointing anyway is this view that we seem to be getting from London that we won’t talk to the EU until you drop the backstop.

“That is not a good starting point for further talks but we are willing to talk.”

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