Johnson may opt for backstop ‘which only applies to Northern Ireland’, says former Belfast advisor

Johnson may opt for backstop ‘which only applies to Northern Ireland’

The new UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson might try to negotiate a backstop which only applies to Northern Ireland - to avoid a hard border between the United Kingdom and the European Union.

That’s according to Kevin Meagher, a former special advisor the Labour party in Northern Ireland. Meagher says Johnson is trying to "look down the barrel of the European Commission to see if there is any wiggle room that he can get rid of the so-called backstop".

Meagher also noted "this is a massively important contentious issue given the history of Northern Ireland in the last 50 years, maintaining a frictionless open border is something everybody in British and Irish politics wants to see happen."

During his trip to Belfast, Boris Johnson said he the UK would leave the European Union on October 31st "come what may".

When asked who he thinks would be likely to blink first in the Brexit negotiations – the UK or the EU - Meagher said "I think a no-deal Brexit is disastrous for Britain but particularly disastrous for Northern Ireland, its economy is very fragile and it wouldn’t take much for Northern Ireland to be wiped out economically."

But the Democratic Unionist Party, which the votes of its 10 MPs are needed to keep the Conservative Party majority in Westminster, have opposed such a move so far throughout the Brexit negotiations.

The influence the party wields at Westminster is very valuable to Boris Johnson and any attempt by him to treat Northern Ireland differently to the rest of the UK might cost him valuable votes in the House of Commons.

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