Backstop 'will mean taxation without representation for north'

Crowds taking part in the People's Vote march in London earlier this year. File picture by John Stillwell, Press Association

VOTERS in the north could face "taxation without representation" if the EU backstop is put in place, a campaign group has warned.

The People's Vote campaign, which is calling for a public vote on the final Brexit deal, said the backstop would mean the north would have to pay VAT rates and excise duties set by a European Union committee after the UK leaves the EU.

It said while Britain could make its own decisions about sales taxes, the north would not.

Labour MP Ian Murray, a leading supporter of the People's Vote campaign, said the backstop was bad for both unionists and nationalists.

He said the DUP was "backed into a corner".

"If they want to continue to back Brexit they are faced with either destroying the agreement and any prospect of a return to devolved government, or they can instead put what they call the 'precious union' at risk by backing the prime minister's draft withdrawal agreement," he said.

"Neither choice serves the interests of unionism and both should be rejected.

"None of this is good news for Irish nationalists either - instead of creating a united Ireland, the backstop would turn Northern Ireland into somewhere where key decisions are taken not in Belfast, never mind Dublin, but by an unelected committee that may contain not a single Irish voice."

People's Vote said under the backstop agreement, no additional goods or services could be VAT-exempted in Northern Ireland without the permission of the European Commission.

The backstop would create "a massive commercial disadvantage for airports in Northern Ireland" because travellers on flights from the Republic to the UK could access duty free shopping but no traveller from any airport in Northern Ireland could.

Meanwhile, Ulster Unionist chairman Lord Empey has accused the DUP of failing to protect Northern Ireland's interests at Westminster over the backstop.

The former party leader said the DUP had promised it had great influence in parliament but had failed to "protect the union".

"The people have been misled into thinking that their interests were being protected by the DUP at Westminster," he said.

"They were not.

"As Robin Swann said at the weekend, they were asleep at the wheel and so puffed up with their own self-importance that they made a strategic blunder of unprecedented proportions by allowing the backstop to go unchallenged last year."

Senior Tory Ken Clarke said yesterday his party's relationship with the DUP over Brexit was "completely broken".

The DUP, which is propping up Prime Minister Theresa May's minority Conservative government, is strongly opposed to the draft Brexit agreement. It has threatened to scrap its confidence-and-supply pact if Brexit leads to barriers between the north and Britain.

Mr Clarke described the pact as a "bit irregular".

The former chancellor said Mrs May had not "the slightest chance of getting the DUP back on side".

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