Brexit coordinator for the European Parliament Guy Verhofstadt has said Ireland will receive unstinting support from the rest of the EU in the event of pressure from the UK to concede ground on the backstop.
Writing for the Guardian today, former Belgian prime minister Verhofstadt said that: "Faced with a British government intent on ratcheting up talk of no deal...I fully expect EU governments to remain calm and keep their unity.
"Attempts to put pressure on Ireland will only be met by waves of solidarity from the rest of the EU."
Warning that there is no time now to limit the shocks caused by a no-deal exit from the EU, he said the only people due to benefit from a no-deal Brexit are "the wealthy bankers and hedge fund managers who have already bet on chaos".
Specifically on the backstop, he writes: "If Brexit does mean Brexit, we are determined that the negotiated withdrawal agreement, including the backstop, which safeguards the Good Friday agreement, cannot be discarded as (British PM Boris) Johnson has requested.
"However, changes are still possible to make the declaration on the future relationship more ambitious, to ensure that the deployment of the Irish backstop is not necessary."
In an apparent nod to comments that Boris Johnson is separately considering an imminent general election, Mr Verhofstadt said a further extension to Brexit will be actively considered by the Europen Commission "if an extension is needed, for example for an election".
The current extension expires on October 31, and Johnson has said the UK will leave the EU "do or die" on that date.
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