According to the readouts obtained by the British and Irish governments, Prime Minister Boris Johnson told his counterpart in Ireland, Leo Varadkar, that he would never to allow physical checks to be put in place at the UK/Irish border after Brexit becomes official on 31 October.
Johnson said his government would “never put any physical controls or physical infrastructure on the border” between the British province of Northern Ireland and Ireland even if it leaves the UK.
The British premier told Varadkar that “The UK will be leaving the EU on October 31, no matter what,” Johnson told Varadkar, adding that his government will be steadfast in its commitment to the 1998 Good Friday peace deal that ended decades of sectarian violence in Northern Ireland and that he “will never put physical checks or a physical infrastructure on the border”.
Johnson made clear that his government will approach any possible negotiations with Brussels in “a spirit of friendship”, and that his clear preference is to leave the EU with a deal, but it must be one that abolishes the Irish backstop – the proposed safety net designed to ensure an open border between Northern Ireland and Ireland in the event that the UK leaves the EU without securing a deal.
Varadkar emphasised to Johnson that “the backstop was necessary as a consequence of decisions taken in the UK and by the British government” while adding that the EU was united in its view that the Withdrawal Agreement could not be renegotiated.
“Alternative arrangements could replace the backstop in the future, as envisaged in the Withdrawal Agreement and the political declaration on the future relationship, but thus far satisfactory options have yet to be identified and demonstrated,” said Varadkar, who reminded Johnson, that the agreement requires that the individual sovereign governments have the right to exercise power on behalf of their citizens.