Shelagh Fogarty Challenges Tory MP Over Irish Backstop In Johnson's Deal

17 October 2019, 14:07 | Updated: 17 October 2019, 14:10

"The DUP have made it clear they're not on side about this" - Shelagh Fogarty challenged Tory Deputy Chair Paul Scully over the Irish backstop proposal in Boris Johnson's new Brexit deal.

"The backstop has so much been abolished as grafted onto the permanent state of affairs," said Shelagh.

Conservative MP Paul Scully said: Well, I'm not quite sure about that. But like you and the EU leaders I'm going through the document now. But essentially what it is doing, it's allowing the whole country to be leaving the EU customers union in one go."

So the extra thing that it'll be able to do for us is it will allow us to do the trade deals and actually put them into place a lot quicker for the rest of the world, as we negotiate a trade deal and a future relationship with the EU.

Shelagh said: "If what you said applied wholly to Northern Ireland as well, then I would say yes, you're right. But it doesn't does it? There are these special arrangements with very close alignment between Northern Ireland and the EU on certain goods.

"The DUP have made it clear they're not on side about this. So that takes us to the mathematics of Saturday, doesn't it?"

Boris Johnson has made a 'great new deal' with the EU
Boris Johnson has made a 'great new deal' with the EU. Picture: PA

"Clearly there are something like 200 odd border crossings along the borderline which is what's providing us with all the complications for this," said Scully, although he said the journeys between the north and south tend to be regular and the government are familiar with their routes.

"It's no longer really about the border," said Shelagh, "that's been dealt with. It's about the level of consent and the level of power the DUP feel they have and therefore what they will or won't vote for on Saturday."

"Yes so the consent - that's the other thing that's a significant change - is it's now up to the people of Northern Ireland through Stormont," said Scully, "it'll be up to them whether they leave or not and how they go on in the future rather than just having this permanence that only the EU effectively could tell us when we could leave the anti-democratic backstop.

"In terms of Saturday, the DUP have been in a number of conversations with the Prime Minister and his team and I fully expect that to continue."

Shelagh said: "Revolving door, really, isn't it? Number 10."

Scully said the DUP will need to go through the detail - it's all very well having a first viewing, but they will need to know the implications of the deal before Saturday's vote.