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Think tank founder criticized for suggesting Britain ‘bribe or threaten the Irish’ over backstop

 Think tank founder criticized for suggesting Britain ‘bribe or threaten the Irish’ over backstop
A British think tank founder sparked a furious backlash for proposing the UK should simply “bribe or threaten” Ireland to drop its opposition to the border backstop, in order to secure a Brexit deal.

While appearing on BBC’s Politics Live to discuss Brexit and the contentious Northern Irish border backstop, Alan Mendoza proposed a solution that echoes previous tactics historically favored by Britain when faced with an Irish opposition.

One of the best things I've seen recently is the idea that you don't go to Brussels but you go instead to Dublin, and you literally do a deal with the Irish, whether you bribe them or threaten them, one way or the other, to get them in a position where they're the ones who drop the opposition to the backstop and that enables the Europeans to do so,” said Mendoza. 

I think the amazing thing about this is, three years in, we are still no closer to actually understanding the final possibilities than we were three years ago,” he added. 

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Mendoza, who has a PhD in History, was heavily criticized on social media for his “astounding” ignorance regarding the historical significance of the Northern Irish border, with the Twitterati saying it was a prime example of the short memory and delusions of British colonialism. Many were simply openly baffled by the suggestions.

Irish Labour Party leader Brendan Howlin described Mendoza’s comments as a “shocking and ignorant fantasy,” adding such a proposal is “appallingly ignorant of the process we have been undertaking for the last three years” throughout the Brexit negotiations. 

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Britain and Ireland have a tense and checkered past which dates back centuries. The 1998 Good Friday Agreement brought 30 years of Northern Ireland conflict to a close, a key part of which was the freedom to move between there and the Republic of Ireland without border checks, effectively removing a hard border. 

The backstop was devised as part of the Brexit deal reached between the EU and Britain that no matter the outcome of Brexit, there will be no physical border between the Republic and Northern Ireland. Although May’s government agreed to it, many MPs (including in the Conservative Party) oppose the idea of a backstop, causing May’s Brexit bill to repeatedly fail to pass parliament. 

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