British, Irish Leaders Clash Over Brexit Border
New Conservative Party leader and prime minister Boris Johnson (image courtesy: AFP)

British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson and Irish counterpart Leo Varadkar, have aired their disagreement over the backstop provision to guarantee an open Irish border after Brexit, the two sides say.

Varadkar told Johnson on the phone that the backstop clause in Britain’s EU withdrawal agreement was necessary and the agreement could not be reopened, the Irish government says.

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He said London and Brussels can negotiate alternative arrangements to replace the backstop if Britain leaves EU under the withdrawal agreement, which was forged by Johnson’s predecessor, Theresa May.

Downing Street says Johnson made clear that the UK will be leaving the EU on Oct. 31, no matter what.

“He told Varadkar that his clear preference is to leave the EU with a deal, but it must be one that abolishes the backstop,’’ it says.