Thursday 19 September 2019

Johnson 'toned down' Brexit stance after bomb

Britain's prime minister Boris Johnson. Photo: Daniel Leal-Olivas/PA Wire
Britain's prime minister Boris Johnson. Photo: Daniel Leal-Olivas/PA Wire
Philip Ryan

Philip Ryan

Government officials believe a dissident republican attack on the Border last week forced Boris Johnson to "tone down" his language about Ireland and the controversial backstop.

A senior Government source close to Tanaiste Simon Coveney claimed the terrorist attack in Fermanagh resulted in the British prime minister rethinking his strategy of targeting the backstop.

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The source made the extraordinary suggestion that Mr Johnson and "the Brits" became "a bit friendlier" toward Ireland as a direct result of the dissident attack which was aimed at killing PSNI officers.

"The Brits got a bit friendlier to us after the attempt to murder PSNI officers," the source said.

However, a suggestion that dissident activity could influence British government policy on Brexit is sure to cause alarm within political and security circles.

Meanwhile, the Government is refusing to say if it was briefed ahead of German chancellor Angela Merkel's comments about finding an alternative to the backstop within the next 30 days.

Mr Johnson seized on Mrs Merkel's comments about finding a solution when they spoke last week.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar's spokesperson refused to say if he was briefed by Mrs Merkel before or after she made the comments when pressed on the issue by the Sunday Independent.

However, a source said: "Foreign governments don't inform us of what they're going to say at press conferences and vice versa we don't inform them."

Sunday Independent

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