Wednesday 21 August 2019

FF leader predicts U-turn on backstop once new UK prime minister takes office

Voted for the backstop: Boris Johnson is favourite to win. Photo: REUTERS/Peter Nicholls
Voted for the backstop: Boris Johnson is favourite to win. Photo: REUTERS/Peter Nicholls

Hugh O'Connell and Kevin Doyle

The next UK leader could reverse their commitment to scrap the backstop, Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has predicted.

Both Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt have said in recent days that the backstop must be removed from the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement.

But Mr Martin insisted: "Any premature comment right now in advance of the [leadership] election, I think, is futile. I mean Boris Johnson voted for the backstop.

"I don't rule out capacity of the people involved to change their minds in the aftermath of a leadership election, so that's why I am not going there."

Mr Martin said he could envisage "all sorts of scenarios" once a new prime minister was elected in Britain, including a general election being called or a second referendum.

"Anything can literally happen given the personalities we are dealing with," he said.

However, while taking part in the final hustings ahead of the leadership result, Mr Johnson said "no democratic country" could submit to the terms of the backstop.

He said it would place the UK in an "appalling dilemma" of having to either accept regulatory alignment with the EU or "lose control of Northern Ireland".

Mr Johnson said this would be an "utterly intolerable choice".

Meanwhile, Mr Martin also claimed there will be "mayhem" at Irish ports in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

"The Government says it's ready for no deal. It's not ready for no deal. There is a lot of huffing and puffing, but I am told the ports are not ready.

"Dublin Port is not ready for a no-deal Brexit, despite what you hear.

"I am told by people who know the port, with experience of the port, that mayhem will ensue," the Opposition leader said.

Irish Independent

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