The Irish border backstop is the “only show in town” and must not fall victim to a Tory civil war, Sinn Fein’s Michelle O’Neill has said.
The party vice president insisted the EU withdrawal treaty could not be renegotiated and called on the Irish Government to “remain firm” despite the “debacle” at Westminster.
She said the controversial backstop, which will tie Northern Ireland to certain European regulations if a wider UK/EU trade deal fails to materialise, is a “bottom line”.
“It is about making sure the backstop is the only show in town, it is the bottom line, it is the insurance policy,” she said.
Mrs O’Neill urged the Irish Government to hold its nerve before she travelled to Dublin for talks with deputy premier Simon Coveney.
“Regardless of what goes on at Westminster the backstop has to be firm, it has to be a commitment, it has to be something that everything stands by,” she said.
Sinn Fein’s Stormont leader said the UK Government was only interested in British interests and the Dublin Government and other EU nations had to protect the interests of the people of Ireland.
“Brexit was conceived because of the Tory civil war,” she said.
“Brexit is a disaster because of the Tory civil war and the leadership challenge is the latest battle in that same civil war.
“Regardless of who leads the British Government, they will always prioritise British interests first.
“For us, it is about working with the Dublin Government and the EU27 to prioritise Irish interests.
“We cannot allow Ireland or Irish interests to become collateral damage of infighting within a Tory party that cares nothing for our economy or our citizens.
“The Tory party can decide who they want to lead them but they cannot be allowed to dictate any renegotiation or dilution of the backstop.”