July 10, 2019 / 12:24 PM / a month ago

EU Commission nominee to defend Irish backstop in Brexit

German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen, who has been nominated as European Commission President, briefs the media after the Conference of Presidents of European Parliament's party blocs in Brussels, Belgium, July 10, 2019. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The nominee for the next president of the European Commission vowed on Wednesday to defend the “backstop” provision in Britain’s withdrawal agreement from the EU to avoid extensive border controls on the island of Ireland.

Ursula von der Leyen told a hearing at the European Parliament that the backstop was “precious, important and has to be defended.”

The backstop, which requires Britain to adopt some EU rules unless a future arrangement is found to keep open the land border between Northern Ireland and Ireland, is contested by leading British politicians who want it changed or scrapped.

Reporting by Gabriela Baczynska, editing by Robin Emmott

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