SINN FÉIN have said ‘dangerous fools’ must not be allowed to destabilise Northern Ireland following Boris Johnson’s criticism of the proposed Brexit backstop.
Writing in the Mail on Sunday, Mr Johnson described the backstop as ‘insanity’, comparing the deal to putting ‘a suicide vest around the British constitution’ and handing Europe the detonator.
The Brexit backstop is a commitment by Britain and the EU to find a solution to avoid a hard border in Ireland if no deal is agreed before Brexit.
However Máirtín Ó Muilleoir, former Lord Mayor of Belfast, accused former British Foreign Minister Johnston of trying to destroy the Good Friday Agreement.
'Real agenda unveiled'
In a statement, Mr Ó Muilleoir branded Johnson’s comments ‘appalling, foolish and dangerous’.
“He has demonstrated yet again a complete disregard for the democratic wishes of the people of the north and the progress made over the last two decades as a result of the Irish peace process,” said the Sinn Féin MLA for Belfast South.
“His remarks unveil the real agenda of the Brexiteers which is to tear up the Good Friday Agreement regardless of the consequences for the community in the North.
“Boris Johnson was a member of the British Tory government when it agreed to the backstop with the EU last December, and again in March this year.
“He is foolish if he thinks the EU 27 will turn their backs on the Irish peace process which they rightly regard as a crowning achievement of the European Union.”
Mr Ó Muilleoir called on the Irish Government to ensure the backstop is delivered.
“Boris Johnson wishes to destroy the Good Friday Agreement. His erstwhile Cabinet colleagues have been attempting to renege on the backstop,” he said.
“That places an onus on the Irish government to stand firm in the Brexit negotiations and ensure the backstop is delivered.
“The backstop must be maintained and built upon so that it avoids a hardening of the border and keeps the North in the customs union and significant elements of the single market while also protecting rights enshrined in the Good Friday Agreement.
“Dangerous fools will not be allowed to destroy all the community in the North has achieved over the past 20 years.”
While both Britain and the EU have committed to finding a backstop, they cannot agree on what format it will take.
The EU would prefer Northern Ireland to remain in the EU single market and customs union during the post-Brexit transition period, until a trade deal between the whole of the UK and Europe is agreed.
However Prime Minister Theresa May wants a temporary customs agreement for the whole of the UK to remain in the EU customs union until a deal is struck, to avoid an east/west border.