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Tue, 31 March 2020

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By Dods General Election Hub 2019

Good Friday Agreement architect Lord Trimble takes government to court over Brexit backstop

Good Friday Agreement architect Lord Trimble takes government to court over Brexit backstop
2 min read

Lord Trimble is to take the Government to court in a bid to scrap the Irish backstop, claiming it breaches the Good Friday Agreement he helped to negotiate.

The Tory peer, who jointly won the 1998 Nobel peace prize with John Hume for his work on the historic peace accord, said he would join other key negotiators in seeking a judicial review of the controversial scheme to maintain an open Irish border.

A spokesperson for Lord Trimble told Reuters: “The Nobel Peace Prize winner and architect of the Good Friday Agreement plans to initiate judicial review proceedings to ensure that the Protocol is removed from the Withdrawal Agreement.”

The former Northern Irish First Minister instead pointed to plans drawn up by the European Research Group of pro-Brexit Tory MPs as a possible alternative to the backstop, which would keep the UK in an indefinite customs union with the EU.

Their proposals involve agreeing an interim free trade deal, as well as a zero tariff regime, to maintain the free flow of goods between Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Lord Trimble's legal action is yet another blow for Theresa May, who will travel to Northern Ireland tomorrow for talks on Brexit with local business leaders.

The Prime Minister has vowed to seek major changes to the backstop in a bid to finally get her Brexit deal ratified by the House of Commons.

Speaking ahead of Mrs May's visit, DUP leader Arlene Foster urged the Prime Minister to "stand strong" in negotiations with European leaders.

"[The backstop] drives a coach and horses through the Belfast Agreement’s principle of consent.  If implemented, it would build a new border between Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom. Such an outcome would undermine both the economic and constitutional integrity of the United Kingdom," she said.

"Parliament has spoken. A majority has rejected the current backstop. The European Union must now accept the need for the withdrawal agreement to be reopened.  The toxic backstop must be dealt with."

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