Boris Johnson's Brexit Plan "Consistent" With Good Friday Agreement: Brexit Secretary

3 October 2019, 08:44 | Updated: 3 October 2019, 08:50

The Brexit Secretary has told LBC the Government's proposals for a new deal are "absolutely consistent" with the Good Friday Agreement.

The plans unveiled by Boris Johnson yesterday would result in new customs checks on the island of Ireland.

Leaders in Dublin expressed concern that could threaten the guarantee to maintain an open border with Northern Ireland - and the European Commission says there are "problematic points" with the proposals.

But Stephen Barclay says the current plan has to change.

He told Nick Ferrari: "There have been positive sounds in Westminster from a number of quarters. In terms of the reaction in Brussels, I spoke to Michel Barnier and he recognised these were serious proposals.

"There is a negotiation. The response in Brussels is that they welcomed the proposals, they could see that we were being creative and flexible and they recognised that serious work had been done. They asked for time to take them away and look at them."

Nick Ferrari spoke to Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay
Nick Ferrari spoke to Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay. Picture: LBC / PA

Irish Senators had admitted concern that the proposals would be in breach of the Good Friday Agreement, but Mr Barclay insisted: "All sides recognise the importance of the Belfast Good Friday Agreement. Our proposals are absolutely consistent with that - no infrastructure in the border at Northern Ireland.

"Secondly, we want to avoid the disruption of a no-deal. Many of the voices in Northern Ireland are clear on that.

"But it is important that the UK recognises the biggest democratic vote in our country's history and that we deliver on that."

Nick asked him about Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar's response to the proposal and Mr Barclay remained positive, adding: "They recognise that if there isn't a deal then many of these issues will then arise for the Irish government in terms of the integrity of the single market in the event of no-deal.

"We have very good relationships with the Irish government. The proposals we have put forward build on that in terms of information sharing and how the authorities work together. And we jointly recognise that a deal is the best way forward."