Jim Allister: Unionists fear DUP ready to compromise on backstop

There can be no compromise on the Irish border backstop for any period of time, TUV leader Jim Allister is to tell MPs at Westminster tomorrow.

Tuesday, 5th March 2019, 3:32 pm
Updated Tuesday, 5th March 2019, 4:35 pm
Jim Allister is to appear before the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee

It comes as the DUP appeared to indicate it would be prepared to accept a time-limited backstop on the basis that it would no longer be a backstop.

“A backstop is an all-enduring, forever trap,” DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds told the News Letter on Monday, adding: “It isn’t a backstop if it is time-limited.”

But North Antrim MLA and barrister Mr Allister – who is to give evidence to the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee – has argued that unionists should not countenance the backstop “for even a single day”.

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In a statement Mr Allister said: “Once it is accepted, even if there are assurances that it will be for a limited period, the backstop will be difficult to exit. There is considerable concern within the unionist community at suggestions that the DUP is prepared to compromise on this point.”

Mr Allister said it was “nonsense” for the EU to suggest that imposing a trade border between Great Britain and Northern Ireland in order to keep an open border with the Republic of Ireland would be in the interests of the people of the Province.

He added: “The total purchases in goods from Great Britain in 2016 (£10,989 million) dwarfed the total purchases in goods from the Republic and the rest of the EU combined (£3,959 million).

“So, for the sake of unfettered access of £1,995 million of goods from RoI the withdrawal agreement proposes to fetter £10,989 million goods from GB – the very goods that stock our supermarket shelves and are part of the vital supply chain to our industry.

“There being no economic logic or reason for this approach the motivation can only be political. The purpose is clear: annex Northern Ireland from the UK and detain it within the EU customs and single market orbit.”

He also dismissed the EU’s idea that the backstop is essential to avoid a hard border is “a hoax”.