Mairead McGuinness MEP and first Vice-President of the European Parliament has described comments on the backstop made this morning by the leader of the Labour party, Brendan Howlin, as “baseless and irresponsible.”
Speaking in Brussels Ms McGuinness said:
“There are no grounds for what Mr Howlin asserted – that suggestions are being made that the Irish backstop issue should be postponed.
“The European Parliament has stressed that it will not give its consent to a withdrawal agreement that does not contain a workable, legally operational and all-weather backstop.
“The Brexit talks are at a highly intensive and sensitive stage and those who are engaged in the talks need the support of all responsible politicians who have Ireland’s and Europe’s best interests at heart.
“Mr Howlin has been evasive about the source of the comments he claims to be hearing.
“There are many opinions about Brexit and the negotiations but there are only two negotiating parties and the EU is focused on reaching a deal, as I believe the UK is.
“The backstop is a fundamental EU issue and the draft withdrawal agreement text remains on the table and is open for the UK to propose changes in order that we can advance the talks.
“This is not a time for attempting to gain political capital by attacking the Irish Government position and I would strongly urge Mr Howlin to either back up the statement he made this morning or withdraw it,” she said.