Belfast Telegraph

Tory MP launches bid to stop Northern Ireland Brexit backstop

By Gareth Cross

A Tory MP has launched a bid to scupper plans for Northern Ireland to have a backstop in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

Leading Brexiteer Steve Baker has tabled amendments to legislation from Secretary of State Karen Bradley so that the Northern Ireland Assembly would have to vote on any proposed backstop.

Mrs Bradley introduced legislation in the House of Commons this week in an attempt to give further decision making powers to Northern Ireland's civil servants in the absence of a Stormont Assembly.

The backstop would allow Northern Ireland to remain in the European Union's single market and customs union in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

It is designed to avoid a hard border in Ireland and has been a sticking point in Brexit withdrawal negotiations.

The DUP have strongly rejected the backstop proposal or any move that would separate Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK, while the Republic of Ireland and EU's negotiating teams have insisted it must be included.

Theresa May's Conservative government relies on support from ten DUP MPs to pass legislation through their confidence and supply agreement.

If Mr Baker's amendments passed the backstop would require the approval of the Stormont Assembly, dissolved since January 2017, and in the event it was restored would likely be rejected by both the DUP and UUP.

Sinn Fein deputy leader Michelle O'Neill said that Mr Baker's plan showed the "reckless disregard the Brexiteers have for the people of the north".

“They care nothing for jobs or for rights and are prepared to drive our economy over the cliff," Mrs O'Neill said.

“The proposed ‘backstop’ is a safety net and insurance policy against the economic threat of Brexit to the island of Ireland."

The Mid Ulster MLA said that Brexiteers had become "emboldened" due to Mrs May's deal with the DUP

“This latest attempt to undermine the backstop must be resisted by the EU and the Dublin government," Sinn Fein's senior Northern Ireland representative said.

“EU negotiators and the Dublin Government must ensure the backstop becomes legally enforceable in any Brexit withdrawal agreement."

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