Northern Ireland

Liam Fox urges MPs to support backstop deal

Liam Fox Image copyright PA
Image caption Mr Fox said that the question is how the backstop gets applied

The International Trade Secretary has reiterated that Brexit withdrawal legislation must include the backstop.

Liam Fox was speaking during a visit to Northern Ireland.

The backstop is the arrangement designed to avoid a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic under all circumstances.

The UK and EU would like to keep the border frictionless through a comprehensive trade deal.

But if such an agreement cannot not be reached the backstop would come into force.

"That's what the European Union have agreed with us," he said.

"The question is how that gets applied and how we avoid having to get to that point."

The backstop debate

The backstop would keep the UK in a "single customs territory" with the EU, and leave Northern Ireland in the EU's single market for goods.

Many MPs fear the UK could be trapped in that arrangement indefinitely and have therefore voted against the prime minister's deal.

She is planning to bring the deal back to the House of Commons at the start of June.

Mr Fox said that MPs need to understand that whatever type of relationship they want with the EU the deal must first be approved.

"Whatever model we want to get to, a Canada-style model or a Norway-style model, we have to get the Withdrawal Bill through Parliament first."

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