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Ireland border backstop 'will apply even after no-deal Brexit', insists Dublin

Theresa May leaves the House of Commons following the key Brexit votes (Dominic Lipinski/PA)
Theresa May leaves the House of Commons following the key Brexit votes (Dominic Lipinski/PA)
Leo Varadkar

The Irish Government are insisting that the border backstop must apply even in the event of a no-deal Brexit, diplomatic sources say.

The Irish Times has reported that sources say the Irish Government will insist on the backstop to ensure there is no return to a hard border.

It is understood that the Irish Government believe that the backstop is the only way of protecting the Good Friday Agreement and keeping the border free from infrastructure.

An Irish source said on Monday that the "backstop applies in all situations", even a no-deal scenario.

Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit deal has become deadlocked over disagreements around the backstop, which is opposed by the DUP and Tory Brexiteers.

Leo Varadkar

They claim that the backstop would create a trade border in the Irish Sea and could leave the UK tied to the EU indefinetly.

On Monday the EU warned that checks on goods entering the Republic of Ireland from the UK will have to be "immediately" applied in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

The stark statement was made as the European Commission completed its no-deal planning and said it is “increasingly likely” that the UK will crash out of the Union on 12 April.

At the weekend Taoiseach Leo Varadkar claimed proposals for what would happen in a no-deal scenario were “very rough”.

He said the Republic is “intensifying our no-deal preparations”.

"They have been very much underway now for months, if not years. They are being intensified and finalised at the moment. We need to see now what happens in Westminster over next couple of days and weeks and we’ll take it from there.”

Sammy Wilson in the House of Commons.

However, the DUP's Brexit spokesperson hit out at recent comments from Mr Varadkar's comments, calling the backstop a "bluff".

"We were told that a hard border was inevitable and unavoidable in the absence of a deal and that the backstop was the only way this could be prevented," the East Antrim MP said.

"What we now see is that alternatives are available and they are being actively considered."

The East Antrim MP said the backstop had been "a negotiating tactic".

"The acknowledgement that the backstop isn't the only way to prevent a hard border does raise the question however as to what the last two years of EU intransigence has been about," he said.

"It has been the EU's stubborn insistence upon the backstop which created the possibility of a no-deal exit. It has been left until a few weeks before an extended deadline before the EU has finally acknowledged its bluff."

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