Fianna Fáil MEP candidate for Midlands North West Brendan Smith TD says any discussions on alternative arrangements to the backstop will not be tolerated by people living along the Border.

Deputy Smith was responding to reports in the British media that Theresa May is prepared to give concessions to the DUP to secure its support for her Brexit deal, including a commitment on alternative arrangements to replace the backstop by the end of 2020.

“There can be no further discussions about alternatives to the backstop. Theresa May negotiated a deal with the EU and signed up to the backstop in December 2017. The terms and conditions cannot be changed simply because the British Prime Minister is failing to bring her MPs along with her”, said Deputy Smith.

“A return to any Border on this island cannot be countenanced. Not from a political, social or economic perspective. Aside from anything else, nobody has been able to point to any examples of the technological solutions, which the British keep talking about, which would work in an Irish context. Many areas along the Border do not even have a decent mobile phone signal, never mind attempting to put complex technological arrangements in place.

“The EU has stood firm behind Ireland, saying there can be no withdrawal agreement without the backstop. Fine Gael has allowed Brexit to fall off the political agenda in recent weeks, and this vacuum has created space whereby the British Prime Minister has slipped back into thinking that the backstop is up for negotiation.

“Our government needs to be firm and re-emphasise the fact that there is no room for negotiation on this issue. Any form of Border on this island will not be tolerated”, concluded Deputy Smith.