Risks related to the Irish backstop issue are weakening the Good Friday Agreement, UK Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay said.
Earlier in the day, reports emerged saying that Prime Minister Boris Johnson would reveal some details of his final Brexit plan to EU leaders within 24 hours. Among other things, the plan reportedly offers an alternative to the Irish backstop, an all-Ireland "economic zone" that would allow agricultural and food products to move around Ireland without border checks.
The Irish backstop is a mechanism that would prevent the reintroduction of a hard border on the island of Ireland after Brexit. In case the backstop comes into force, Northern Ireland will remain a member of the single market, meaning goods crossing the Irish border won't be subject to checks for customs standards. The backstop issue has remained a stumbling block in negotiations between London and Brussels with both sides failing to agree to what extent Northern Ireland should be excluded from the EU single market and customs union after Brexit.
The Belfast Agreement, also known as the Good Friday Agreement, is a peace agreement signed in 1998 between the British and Irish governments, and most of the political parties in Northern Ireland, on how Northern Ireland should be governed.