UK Tory contenders vow to scrap Irish border Brexit policy

Boris Johnson -Brexit - EU - Ireland
Conservative Party leadership contender Boris Johnson gestures as he speaks during a party leadership hustings in Belfast, Northern Ireland, Tuesday, July 2, 2019. Johnson and Jeremy Hunt, who are competing for the Conservative Party leadership, have both vowed to use a fiscal cushion built up by the government to soften the economic blow from a potentially disruptive Brexit. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison, Pool)

LONDON — The two contenders to be Britain’s next prime minister both say they will scrap a contentious Irish border provision that has hamstrung efforts to approve a divorce agreement with the European Union.

Jeremy Hunt and Boris Johnson are competing to replace Prime Minister Theresa May, who is quitting after Parliament rejected her Brexit deal. A key sticking point is a measure known as the backstop, designed to maintain an invisible border between Northern Ireland and EU member Ireland.

EU leaders say there can be no withdrawal agreement without it. But Brexit-backing U.K. lawmakers reject it for keeping Britain bound to the EU.

Hunt said Tuesday that “we are never going to have a deal to leave the EU with the backstop.”

Johnson said May’s withdrawal agreement “is a dead letter.”