Brexit: Creed says backstop cannot be time-limited
Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed on Wednesday repeated the government’s position that no time limit can be set on the “backstop” in Britain’s Withdrawal Agreement with the European Union.
“It cannot be time limited. It was negotiated in good faith on the basis of red lines insisted upon by the UK government, informed by DUP concerns,” Creed told national broadcaster RTE.
The Taoiseach sought to warn Boris Johnson that his demand to abolish the Brexit backstop and continued reliance on the DUP risks ignoring the UK government's obligation to be impartial on Northern Ireland, the Irish Independent can reveal.
Six days after becoming prime minister Mr Johnson finally spoke to Leo Varadkar yesterday morning, but the two leaders remained fundamentally at odds on Brexit following the 15-minute phone call described as "warm" by both governments.
Mr Johnson told the Taoiseach that any Brexit deal must see the backstop abolished - which the EU and Ireland oppose - and that the UK will leave the EU on October 31 "no matter what", stoking fears of a hard Brexit this Halloween.
Downing Street also failed to acknowledge or respond to the Taoiseach's invitation to Mr Johnson to come to Dublin for talks - a day after the prime minister's spokeswoman signalled he would not meet EU leaders until they agree to renegotiate the backstop.
Mr Johnson is in Belfast today for talks with the leaders of Sinn Féin, the DUP, the Ulster Unionist Party, the Alliance Party and the SDLP about restoring power-sharing at Stormont.
But Mr Varadkar told the prime minister yesterday that the Good Friday Agreement requires the UK government to exercise power with "rigorous impartiality on behalf of all the people".
A Government source later said the Taoiseach did this in order to remind Mr Johnson of his obligations under the agreement in light of not only the UK demand to abolish the backstop, but the continuing stalemate at Stormont where there has been no government for more than two years.
The majority of voters in Northern Ireland opposed Brexit in 2016, while Mr Johnson's minority government is reliant on the Brexit-backing DUP for support in Westminster.
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