February 13, 2019 / 1:30 PM / 8 days ago

Irish backstop not a bridge to future UK-EU ties: May's spokesman

FILE PHOTO: A road which crosses the border from County Donegal in Ireland to County Londonderry in Northern Ireland, is seen from near the border village of Lenamore, Ireland, February 1, 2018. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne/File Photo

LONDON (Reuters) - A backstop plan for the Irish border is not a “bridge” to Britain’s future relationship with the European Union but an insurance policy that no one intends to use, a spokesman for Prime Minister Theresa May said on Wednesday.

May’s chief Brexit negotiator was quoted as saying the backstop had been conceived as a bridge to the long-term trading relationship between the UK and EU after he was overheard in a Brussels bar, in comments that angered Brexit supporters in the Conservative Party.

Asked whether the backstop was indeed a bridge to the future relationship, the spokesman told reporters: “No. The PM has been clear that the backstop was designed as an insurance policy that is never intended to be used. Neither the UK nor the EU wish to see the backstop enter into force. There are elements of the backstop that are deeply uncomfortable.”

Reporting by Elizabeth Piper, writing by Alistair Smout; editing by Stephen Addison

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