Brexit: Brendan Howlin claims EU could defer Irish backstop

Brendan Howlin has claimed the EU is considering postponing or deferring the Irish backstop. Picture by Niall Carson/PA Wire

THE leader of the Labour Party in the Republic has claimed that the European Union is considering postponing or deferring the Irish backstop.

Brendan Howlin said he had learned of the "very dangerous" suggestion from colleagues in Europe.

Mr Howlin said the Brexit negotiations had reached the point where the border had become the "fulcrum issue".

The Wexford TD said he had hoped a clear outline of the backstop would have been agreed in June and now fears that if it is not settled soon "there was every danger that it would become the critical issue".

He said a deferment of the backstop would "muddy the waters in relation to the exit deal".

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"I think that is very dangerous for us and it is something that we have to resist but it was predictable," he said.

Mr Howlin called for a "clear determination set out by the Irish government" on the backstop issue and that it must be permanent.

"The idea of a temporary backstop is a bizarre suggestion," he said.

The Labour leader said the backstop should be "put to bed".

 Ian Knox cartoon 17/10/18: With every blast of the DUP’s “blood red lines” rigidity, the prospect of a hard Brexit followed by a border poll with an increasingly unpredictable outcome becomes more likely

Asked if a no-deal Brexit was now a possibility he said: "Yes that is my view. I think that people have boxed themselves into extreme positions and it is the extremists now that are dictating terms – that is something that I was fearful of for a year."

A Dublin government spokesman described Mr Howlin's claim about the backstop as "utterly baseless", adding that the EU remained fully supportive of the Republic's position.

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