DUP’s Sammy Wilson: Brexit will not ‘take us back’ to the Troubles

Hugh Fox
February 7, 2019

On her last visit in November, she hailed the Withdrawal Agreement as a good deal for Northern Ireland and defended the controversial "backstop" as an essential safeguard in ensuring no return to a hard border with the Republic.

With Britain's Parliament at odds over Brexit, Prime Minister Theresa May gathered pro-Brexit and pro-EU Conservative lawmakers into an "alternative arrangements working group" seeking to break the deadlock. They envisage circumstances where the Northern Ireland-only provisions of the backstop are left intact as Great Britain seeks to diverge, re-opening the possibility of customs barriers within the United Kingdom-something that caused great concern at the time of the EU's original backstop proposal a year ago, and ruled out by the prime minister again this week.

In a speech in Belfast, the Prime Minister restated her "unshakeable" commitment to avoiding a hard border in Ireland after Brexit, pledging: "The UK Government will not let that happen". Downing Street has previously suggested that these might revolve around a time-limit or unilateral brake on the backstop or technological solutions to keep traffic flowing over the border.

"We have said to her, in the event of a crash, in the event of a Tory crash, that she must as a democrat return to the Good Friday Agreement, and she must begin preparation for a referendum on Irish unity".

"We need to see a willingness from the European Union", the lawmaker said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Border disruption caused by a No Deal Brexit would also pose significant risks to the museum sector, the statement said.

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"A series of votes has taken place in the British parliament, upon the basis of which the prime minister will come to explain what comes next", he said.

Plans for Britain to leave the bloc on March 29 under a withdrawal agreement signed past year were thrown into doubt when British lawmakers rejected the accord.

Mrs May has previously insisted that "alternative arrangements" to the Irish backstop were under her consideration after her previous Withdrawal Agreement was roundly rejected by Parliament.

Mrs May's spokesman insisted: "She is absolutely determined to deliver Brexit on time".

Britain is due to leave on March 29.

When asked how Mrs May was feeling about the challenge she faced on the Continent, her spokesman said: "She is determined to do what it takes to get the changes required for Parliament to support the United Kingdom leave the European Union with a deal".

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May said she would seek an alternative arrangement which avoids the need for a hard border or legally binding changes to the border backstop to introduce a time limit or create an exit mechanism.

She says "one has to be creative, and we must listen to one another" but that an agreement on the Irish border is still possible.

A statement to the House of Commons would not be enough, they added, pointing out that Lord Goldsmith's comments on the legal case for the Iraq War to the Lords were far more political and less explicit than his written advice for the government, the source added.

He said the "pro-Brexit stance" of May and opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn meant that "today, there is no political force and no effective leadership for remain".

It would see the United Kingdom enter into a temporary customs union with the EU if no trade deal is sealed by the end of a transition period after Brexit, which lasts until December 2020 and could be extended to the end of 2022.

Firstly, the European Union is currently refusing, for now, to renegotiate the Brexit withdrawal deal.

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The simple yet vital fact is that the backstop is an essential insurance policy that would ensure an open border unless and until this is provided for by the future UK-EU relationship.

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