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27th Jan 2019

Dutch Prime Minister bluntly explains consequences of ending Irish border and backstop agreement

Carl Kinsella

Mark Rutte pulled no punches

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte was quizzed on the issue of a hard border in Ireland by UK reporters this week. One reporter pinned him on whether or not any “concessions” could be made on the backstop to avoid a no-deal scenario which would potentially cripple the UK economy for days.

Rutte quickly shot him down: “The backstop was not our idea. We both agreed, UK and European Union, we don’t want a hard border in Ireland. That was a joint position. Then the UK government said three additional things: no hard border in the Irish sea, no membership of the customs union, and no free movement of people.

“Given that whole set of circumstances, the present deal is the only deal on the table.”

The reporter continued to ask Rutte if he was prepared to make concessions, such as a time-limit on the backstop.

“What would then happen when the backstop is gone? A hard border. And what does a hard border mean? End of the Good Friday Agreement and potentially back to the Troubles,” he replies.

Watch the full exchange below:

As it stands, the UK is scheduled to leave the EU of 29 March. The withdrawal agreement agreed by Theresa May and the EU was defeated resoundingly in the House of Commons leaving very few options on the table.