Published On: Thu, Aug 22nd, 2019

Treasonable!’ Theresa May’s backstop condemned by Irish border residents – ‘Unacceptable’ | UK | News

Bertie Kerr, 81, former Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) councillor and farmer in Ballinamallard, Co Fermanagh in Norther Ireland, around 15 miles from the border, told The Sun: “The backstop is treasonable. It’s that bad.” Fellow Fermanagh resident Irwin Armstrong, a former chair of the Conservatives in Northern Ireland, agreed with the Brexit concerns. 

He said: “The backstop is like Hotel California, where you can check out but never leave.

“That’s not acceptable.”

However, a geographical anomaly on the Irish border known as the Dummully Polyp shows how complex an issue this really is.

The Polyp is a tiny, four-square mile piece of the Republic of Ireland almost surrounded entirely by County Fermanagh in Northern Ireland.

brexit backstop

The Brexit backstop is ‘treasonable’ according to residents (Image: GETTY)

Brexit backstop

Brexit backstop: Dummully Polyp is on the Irish border (Image: GETTY )

It is connected to the rest of the Republic by a tiny wedge of land measuring just 300 feet in width, without road or pedestrian access.

People travelling from the rest of the Republic of Ireland can only access Drummully Polyp, also in the Republic, by first traveling into Northern Ireland.

Driving across the Polyp requires crossing the Irish border seven times – and residents say life there without any sort of barrier would be unbearable.

Currently, the Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland are both members of the EU and share a soft border where goods and people move freely.

READ MORE: Brexit backstop explained: A really simple guide


Brexit backstop: The border issue remains thorny (Image: GETTY )

But as the UK gets set to leave the EU on October 31, the thorny border issue remains unresolved. 

Under the backstop, EU customs rules will be extended across the whole of the UK for a “temporary period”.

But without a time limit, if the EU and UK can’t agree on a deal Britain could be stuck in the backstop for a long time.

Brexiteers detest the backstop as they fear it could permanently trap the UK in the EU customs union, preventing Britain from striking its own trade deals.

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Brexit backstop

Brexit backstop: Boris Johnson has vowed to get rid of the backstop (Image: GETTY )

Brexit backstop

Brexit backstop: The Polyp is a tiny, four-square mile piece of the Republic of Ireland (Image: GETTY )

This is because the backstop can only be ended by a joint committee between the EU and UK, where the Brussels bloc gets a veto.

The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), the party that props up Boris Johnson’s government, are pro-Brexit but say the backstop in its current form is “a huge fundamental flaw”.

They have strongly rejected the backstop over fears of additional checks in Northern Ireland.

They say this would not be acceptable due to difference between Northern Ireland ad Britain, which could threaten the Union.

Brexit backstop

Brexit backstop: The impact of a hard Brexit on Ireland’s GDP (Image: EXPRESS)

Prime Minister Mr Johnson has said he is committed to getting rid of the “undemocratic” backstop.

Writing to the EU’s Donald Tusk earlier this week, the Tory leader said he is ready to do a deal with the EU if the backstop is scrapped.

He previously said: ”No country that values its independence, and indeed its self-respect, could agree to a treaty which signed away our economic independence and self-government as this backstop does.”

And on Wednesday the prime minister co-opted a slogan often used by German Chancellor Angela Merkel during his trip to Berlin.

Brexit backstop

Brexit backstop: A resident said the backstop is like Hotel California (Image: GETTY )

“Wir schaffen das”, or “We can do it”, was used by the German chancellor four years ago in the midst of the migrant crisis in the country.

She went on to use the phrase in the aftermath of attacks in the country in the following months.

And Mr Johnson used the term during a joint press conference in Berlin after discussing Brexit and the Irish border on Wednesday.

He said: “We in the UK want a deal, we seek a deal and I believe that we can get one.

“We can do it. ‘Wir schaffen das’, I think, is the phrase.”

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