Karen Bradley has come under pressure from the DUP to pursue changes to the Northern Ireland backstop arrangement.
DUP Westminster leader Nigel Dodds highlighted MPs had supported an amendment to replace the backstop with “alternative arrangements” and asked if Mrs Bradley still stood by it and whether she would encourage Prime Minister Theresa May to “adopt that approach”.
NI Secretary Mrs Bradley replied: “(Mr Dodds) is right to point out a majority, the only majority we’ve actually seen in this House for anything, was a majority for what’s called the Brady amendment – I was one of those who voted for that because I do want to see changes to the backstop and that’s something we achieved through the agreement that alternative arrangements could be part of the way the backstop is replaced.”
In response, Mr Dodds said he was “grateful” that Mrs Bradley recognised that changes to the backstop were required.
He also pointed out that Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier had indicated that, in the event of a no-deal, there will not be a hard border on the island of Ireland and arrangements will be made to ensure checks and controls remain operationally away from the border.
Mr Dodds asked Mrs Bradley: “Does she understand the frustration of people, therefore, who say that in the event of a no-deal there’ll be no hard border but they’re insisting on a backstop, which could actually bring about the conditions they say they want to avoid?”
The NI secretary said she understood the “many frustrations” around Brexit, noting the Withdrawal Agreement is a “fair and balanced” way for the whole of the UK to leave.