Belfast Telegraph

Theresa May to say EU's backstop option breaches Good Friday Agreement

Theresa May is set to hit out at the EU's proposed 'backstop' for Northern Ireland as a breach of the Good Friday Agreement.

In a speech at Belfast's Waterfront Hall on Friday morning, the Prime Minister is expected to outline her commitment to keeping the union together and the benefits of her Chequers deal for Northern Ireland.

Friday's speech comes after Mrs May's first visit to the Northern Ireland border since the Brexit referendum in 2016, having started her two-day visit in Fermanagh on Thursday.

She will also reiterate the government's commitment to ensuring there is no customs border between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK - something she claims would contravene the Good Friday Agreement.

She is expected to say: "The economic and constitutional dislocation of a formal ‘third country’ customs border within our own country is something I will never accept and I believe no British Prime Minister could ever accept.

"And as they made clear this week, it is not something the House of Commons will accept either."

On the agreement reached at Chequers, Mrs May will say it had laid out how customs and regulatory checks in Northern Ireland had been avoided and it was "now for the EU to respond".

"Not simply to fall back onto previous positions which have already been proven unworkable. But to evolve their position in kind. And, on that basis, I look forward to resuming constructive discussions," she will say.

"A brighter future for Northern Ireland – where we restore devolution and come together again as a community to serve the interests of the people.

"A brighter future for us all, where we put aside past divisions and work as one to meet the challenges and seize the opportunities that lie ahead."

Belfast Telegraph Digital

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