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Reality of backstop not changing or going anywhere will confront new British prime minister, says Donohoe

Jeremy Hunt proclaimed during a television debate with Boris Johnson that the backstop is “dead”.

Paschal Donohoe says the backstop isn't going anywhere.
Paschal Donohoe says the backstop isn't going anywhere.
Image: Sam Boal

THE BACKSTOP WILL remain in the Brexit withdrawal agreement, according to Finance and Public Expenditure Minister Paschal Donohoe.

His comments come the day after Jeremy Hunt, a contender for the Tory leadership, proclaimed during a television debate with Boris Johnson that the backstop is “dead”.

When asked about the comments today, Donohoe said he had “followed what was said last night” during the debate. 

He said “there may well be a change in personality and outlook in dealing with this issue but the Irish government and the EU on this issue are really clear that we are not going to be changing the content of the backstop agreement and that in any future scenario the backstop in the withdrawal agreement will be needed”.

“We will not be changing the backstop,” he added, stating that it is at the “heart” of the two-year negotiations which resulted in the withdrawal agreement.

If the customs infrastructure on the border is to be avoided, and the UK are taking the decision to exit the Customs Union “you need regulatory alignment and the backstop is simply a procedure for ensuring regulatory alignment in a variety of different circumstances and this reality will, I fear, become quickly apparent for any new UK colleagues that have to wrestle with this issue”, he said. 

If there is to be regulatory alignment in both agriculture and health, that will “mean you need a backstop and that has been the reality we have had to grapple with for nearly three years and it is a realty that will confront any British prime minister”. 

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