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30 Jul, 2019 16:16

BoJo & Irish PM Varadkar clash over ‘backstop’ in first exchange about Brexit

BoJo & Irish PM Varadkar clash over ‘backstop’ in first exchange about Brexit

Boris Johnson has been given a bullish response over Brexit by Irish PM Leo Varadkar, who warned him that the EU withdrawal agreement “could not be reopened” and the controversial ‘backstop’ the UK wants abolished is “necessary.”

In the first phone call between the pair since Johnson’s accession last week, the new UK prime minister warned that Britain will leave the EU on October 31 “come what may.” Johnson’s insistence that alternative arrangements to the Irish ‘backstop’ must now be the way forward was rebuffed by Varadkar in the phone exchange on Tuesday.

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A spokesman for the Irish PM giving details of the phone conversation revealed that Varadkar had warned Johnson that “the EU was united in its view that the withdrawal agreement could not be reopened.”

Alternative arrangements could replace the backstop in the future...but thus far satisfactory options have yet to be identified and demonstrated.

Johnson has been at pains to insist that he does not seek a ‘no-deal’ Brexit, despite laying down red lines that Brussels has rejected out of hand, making the prospect of the UK leaving the EU without a deal ever more likely.

A Downing Street spokesperson commenting on the telephonic altercation told reporters that the UK government is committed to “the Belfast [Good Friday] Agreement and will never put physical checks or physical infrastructure on the border.”

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The Belfast or Good Friday Agreement brought peace to Northern Ireland after years of violence over British control there. Removing checks between the two jurisdictions on the island was considered a key factor in reducing tensions. After Brexit, this border will become part of the EU’s external frontier.

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