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Brexit deal not open to renegotiation - European Union spokesman

31 January 2019

A no-deal Brexit could bring a military presence back to the Irish border, Ireland's Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Leo Varadkar admitted.

"We are not going to impose a hard border, but the European Union will presumably be insisting that the Irish government goes in that direction otherwise they damage the integrity of the single market".

The DUP has maintained that the European Union is using the Irish border as a means to eventually cut off the province from the rest of the United Kingdom, with DUP Brexit spokesman Sammy Wilson calling the issue a "con".

A border checkpoint at Newry in 1992
A border checkpoint at Newry in 1992

Last night, the Government scrambled to clarify Mr Varadkar's remarks.

Mr Varadkar also said Ireland is being victimised in the Brexit process and the government would not be giving up on the backstop mechanism for promises that the border issue would be rectified at a later date.

They claim a hard frontier could destroy the 20 year-old peace deal. "It's a legal guarantee and an operable mechanism by which we know there won't be a hard border as a outcome of Brexit and that's why we have to hold so firmly on it".

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"They don't exist and nobody has been able to show them to me", he said. "That's just not a serious position".

"People who say they're against a hard border and also against a backstop - that's a contradiction", he said.

In a worst-case scenario, a hard border could "involve people in uniform and it may involve the need, for example, for cameras, physical infrastructure, possibly a police presence, or an army presence to back it up", Varadkar said in a Bloomberg Television interview at the World Economic Forum on Friday.

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Within six minutes of the result being announced, an EU spokesperson from the European Council said the backstop was "part of the withdrawal agreement, and the withdrawal agreement is not open for renegotiation".

He told the Press Association that the group supported Theresa May's Brexit deal, and said: "Business in Northern Ireland and farming directly engaged with the negotiators to ensure that whatever came out of the Withdrawal Agreement was workable, and it is".

"We're not going to give up the mechanism that we know will work".

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Brexit deal not open to renegotiation - European Union spokesman