No “Backstop” is same as no deal for Ireland, Taoiseach tells Johnson

Posted By: September 09, 2019


Distributed to Congress by Irish National Caucus.
“ Boris has met his match in Leo. Taoiseach Varadkar is giving a command performance.
Irish-Americans say: Yes, to the “Backstop. No, to a hard Border. And better still, No damn Border at all.
Fr. Sean McManus

RTE. Dublin. Monday, September 9,  2019
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has told British Prime Minister Boris Johnson that, for the Irish Government,  having no “Backstop” in the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement was the same as having no deal.

Speaking at Government Buildings ahead of their first face-to-face meeting since Mr. Johnson became prime minister, Mr. Varadkar said there was no such thing as a clean break

He said the story of Brexit would not end when the UK leaves the EU, either at the end of October or at the end of January.

“In the absence of agreed alternative arrangements, no “Backstop” is no deal for us,” Mr. Varadkar said.

“All it does is kick the can down the road for another 14 months; another 14 months of uncertainty for business, another 14 months of uncertainty for people north and south of the Border. So that’s not an option that we find attractive at all.”

Mr. Varadkar said he believed a deal was possible and he wanted Ireland to be a friend and ally of the UK.

The Taoiseach warned Mr. Johnson that he faced a “herculean task” in achieving trade deals with the EU and US post-Brexit.

He said he was confident that he and Mr. Johnson would achieve common ground, and said he would listen to any constructive ways that might break the current Brexit impasse.

He said they respected the UK’s decision to leave the EU but said leaving with no-deal would cause severe disruption to Ireland and the UK.

Mr. Varadkar said the backstop was a critical component of the Withdrawal Agreement, and they could not replace a legal guarantee with a promise.

“The stakes are high, avoiding a return to a hard Border is the priority of this Government,” he said.

“We are open to all alternatives legally workable, but we have not received such to date.

“The Good Friday Agreement is the best example to show that old foes can come together and as co-guarantors of that agreement.”

Mr. Johnson said the one message he wanted to deliver today is that his overwhelming preference is to get a deal. He said he believed this could be achieved by 31 October.

He said he had looked carefully at a no-deal scenario and assessed the consequences for both Ireland and the UK, but going through with it would be a failure of statecraft.

Mr. Johnson said Brexit was not a problem that Ireland wished for and so there were many questions that needed to be resolved.

He said the UK would never institute checks at the border, could protect the economic unity of Ireland, and could uphold the Good Friday Agreement.

“I’ve seen the old Border and how absolutely vital it is we keep the open border, on the plan, it’s fairly obvious, we need to find a way of ensuring that the UK is not kept locked in “Backstop” arrangement while giving Ireland the assurance that it needs,” he said.

“Whether it’s electronic pre-clearance or concept of the unity of island for agri-foods, and other ideas we’ll bring forward to address the full range.

“I don’t underestimate the technical problems but I do think there is a way through.”