'Take the backstop out': Boris Johnson says Brexit deal can still be made

Latest: Former British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has said the backstop needs to "come out" of Thresea May's Withdrawal Agreement with the EU in order to allow Brexit.

'Take the backstop out': Boris Johnson says Brexit deal can still be made

Former British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has said the backstop needs to "come out" of Thresea May's Withdrawal Agreement with the EU in order to allow Brexit.

"(The backstop) needs to be surgically removed," he said after Mrs May lost tonight's vote on her Brexit deal by a large margin of 230 votes.

Mr Johnson said the margin of defeat (230 votes) was bigger than he had expected.

Former foreign secretary Boris Johnson said the result of the vote gave Theresa May a “massive mandate” to go back to Brussels and renegotiate. A total of 432 Mps votes against the deal, to 202 who voted in favour.

Asked by the BBC whether Mrs May was the right person to lead the party and country, Mr Johnson said: “The Tory Party had a go at all that, we all had a go at all that in December.

“That is not the issue. The issue is not who does it, the issue is what to do.”

He added that no-deal was “not at all” off the table, saying: “We should not only be keeping the good bits of the deal, getting rid of the backstop, but we should also be actively preparing for no-deal with ever more enthusiasm.”

Meanwhile, Democratic Unionist leader Arlene Foster has commended the British Parliament over the defeat of Theresa May’s withdrawal deal.

“Parliament has acted in the best interests of the entire United Kingdom,” she said.

“The House of Commons has sent an unmistakable message to the Prime Minister and the European Union that this deal is rejected.

“Mrs May will now be able to demonstrate to the Brussels negotiators that changes are required if any deal is to command the support of Parliament.

“We will work with the Government constructively to achieve a better deal. That is our focus. Whilst some may wish to use this defeat to boost their political ambitions, we will give the Government the space to set out a plan to secure a better deal.

“Reassurances whether in the form of letters or warm words will not be enough. The Prime Minister must now go back to the European Union and seek fundamental change to the Withdrawal Agreement.

“We want an orderly exit from the European Union with a sensible deal which works for Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom.”

Earlier: DUP to support May in confidence vote tomorrow

The DUP’s Brexit spokesman Sammy Wilson (pictured below) has confirmed the party would vote with British Prime Minister Theresa May in tomorrow's confidence vote in the House of Commons.

The motion follows defeat of Mrs May's Brexit plan this evening, by a huge majority.

Mr Wilson told the BBC: “We will vote with the Government, we will vote against the Labour Party’s confidence motion.

“We want to see the Conservative Government continuing to deliver on Brexit … we never wanted a change of government, we wanted a change of policy back to what the Prime Minister promised in the manifesto she stood on, and the promises she made in subsequent speeches.”

Earlier: Taoiseach urged to 'stand firm on backstop' as May loses Brexit vote

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald has urged Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to “stand firm on the backstop” in the wake of the defeat of the Brexit vote tonight.

Theresa may lost the vote on a Withdrawal Agreement by a massive 230 margin, by 202 votes to 432.

“Ireland’s people, Ireland’s economy and Ireland’s peace process all need to be protected as we go forward now,” Mary Lou McDonald said.

“The Taoiseach and the Tánaiste and our partners at a European level need to stand firm and not move away from or attempt to dilute the backstop.

“We need to say clearly to the British that if they wish to Brexit then that’s a matter for themselves but any Brexit agreement needs to recognise, understand and protect the people, the economy and the peace process on this island.”

'Higher prices, less choice'

Meanwhile, the director of the Northern Ireland Retail Consortium said tonight’s vote “will be a cause for concern across the Northern Ireland business community”.

Aodhan Connolly said: “Northern Ireland businesses desperately need certainty about the UK’s future trading relationship with the EU and will be severely disadvantaged by a no deal.

“A no-deal Brexit means that Northern Ireland households will face higher prices and less choice on the shelves, something they can ill afford.

“We need politicians to coalesce around a workable solution that protects consumers from the costs and disruptions due to the loss of tariff-free and frictionless trade we currently enjoy with partners in the EU.

“We are now closer than ever to the possibility of a no-deal that will be a disaster for Northern Ireland.”

Earlier, Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney confirmed the Irish Government had agreed an approach to no-deal Brexit legislation.

A number of memos were discussed at Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting which included the Common Travel Area, medicines and transport connectivity.

Speaking after the Cabinet meeting, Minister Coveney said: “While all eyes are on the House of Commons tonight, it is important the Government’s planning continues for all outcomes, including no deal.

“Today’s discussion at Cabinet took this work forward in the important areas of transport connectivity and medicines, with memos brought to Government by (Transport) Minister (Shane) Ross and (Health) Minister (Simon) Harris respectively.

“We also agreed an approach to no-deal Brexit legislation. Finally, I updated the Cabinet on developments with our Common Travel Area, which will continue in all circumstances.

“A no-deal Brexit will have a significant impact on Ireland – these measures being taken by the Government are designed to limit the damage. It remains our view that the only way to secure an orderly withdrawal is to ratify the Withdrawal Agreement.”

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