British Minister Sees EU as 'Irresponsible' for Refusal to Renegotiate Brexit
British Minister Sees EU as 'Irresponsible' for Refusal to Renegotiate Brexit
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07 February, 2019, 03:44
On Thursday, she will visit Brussels for fresh talks, but a spokesman for EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said the EU was still "waiting once again to hear what the prime minister has to tell us". The changes center on replacing a measure known as the backstop, created to keep an open border between the United Kingdom'sNorthern Ireland and European Union member state Ireland.
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".
She said: "But that is the secondary consideration, the primary issue here is the concept of consent which is hardwired into the Good Friday Agreement, the fact that the people of the north of Ireland have not consented to Brexit, the fact that business, farmers, academia, community sector, trade unions and political system nearly unanimously regard Brexit as damaging and negative, nearly unanimously regard the backstop as the absolutely bare minimum and the bottom line".
"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".
She also emphasized the government's support for the Good Friday agreement, the 1998 treaty that largely ended decades of violence in Northern Ireland known as "the Troubles".
Theresa May during a visit to Belfast after MPs voted for an amendment on the backstop in her Brexit plan.
SDLP leader Colum Eastwood, who was third in to see Mrs May, said she needed to understand there was no alternative to the backstop.
The logistics industry has said that drivers could be prevented from crossing the channel unless they have one of a limited number of permits if Britain leaves the bloc on March 29 without a new trading framework.
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"Many people across the United Kingdom feels she has let them down by the way she has carried out these negotiations - certainly as far as Northern Ireland is concerned", he said.
In a meeting of her cabinet on Tuesday, May is expected to have told ministers that there are three options she would consider as an alternative to the current backstop proposal: alternative technological arrangements, a time-limit or a unilateral 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.
The House of Commons last month overwhelmingly rejected the Brexit deal that May had negotiated with the European Union over 18 months.
As the party that negotiated the Good Friday agreement, which brought peace to Northern Ireland, the Labour Party has a solemn duty to be responsible in our approach to the effects of Brexit on Northern Ireland and the Good Friday agreement - no matter how great the desire to see a change in government, we can not forget our responsibility to the peace process and to protecting its integrity.
"It's very clear from our perspective that the time for reiterating red lines and regurgitating reassurances has long gone", she said. "We want the future relationship between the European Union and the U.K.to be as close, comprehensive and ambitious as possible, so that the backstop will never be needed".
Without the protections offered by the backstop, future regulatory divergence between the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland, in areas such as agriculture, could necessitate the return of customs checks and therefore a "hard border".
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