FERMANAGH farmer John Sheridan says the United Kingdom will become a “third world country” after Brexit following a meeting with EU negotiator Michael Barnier on Tuesday.
The Florencecourt man, a member of Border Communities Against Brexit, met Mr. Barnier who warned of the risk of a hard Border returning in Ireland.
The chief Brexit negotiator urged rapid movement on the vexed issue ahead of this June’s meeting of the bloc’s leaders.
Mr. Sheridan agreed, telling this newspaper afterwards: “No deal will be agreed until there is agreement on the backstop and no transitional period can happen without agreement on trade.”
He said in less than a year’s time the UK “will be a third world country outside the EU which has over 750 international trade deals.”
“From the medical passport to the financial passport based in London to the Blue Skies Agreement; all have to be rehashed by UK in its new relationship with the EU. 
“Specifics such as free movement on this Island, respect for the Good Friday Agreement, respect for animal health on the island of Ireland, environmental health and shared responsibility including the All Island Energy situation and Co operative security all have to be addressed in the context of EU retaining its integrity,” said Mr. Sheridan. 
Following his visit to Northern Ireland on Tuesday, Mr. Barnier said there could be no withdrawal deal without a “backstop” option, meaning if no better solution is found Northern Ireland would continue to follow EU rules relating to the all-Ireland economy and North-South co-operation.
Mr. Barnier said: “The backstop is not there to change the UK’s red lines. It is there because of the UK’s red lines.
“The UK’s decision to leave the single market and the customs union creates a risk that the hard Border will return. This is why it is necessary to have a self-standing backstop solution.”
Many operational details have yet to be resolved surrounding the UK’s only land border with an EU state after Brexit and the issue is top of the agenda in Brussels.
Mr. Barnier visited the Border town of Dundalk on Monday.
He said: “We need to agree rapidly by June on the scope of all-island customs and regulations, the safety and controls that we need to respect the single market.”
This summer’s meeting of European leaders in Brussels would be a “stepping stone” for the final summit in October, which is the deadline for reaching an agreement on withdrawal, he added.
“The backstop is needed in order to respect the integrity of the single market and the EU’s customs union.
“Some people think that we could have two different sets of rules on the island of Ireland and still avoid Border checks.
“But Ireland is a member of the EU - and a proud member, I add. It is an active player, active, very active player, in the single market.
“Goods that enter Ireland also enter the single market. It is called the “single” market for a reason.
“So, since we all agree that we do not want a Border, and since the UK agreed to respect Ireland’s place in the single market, then that means goods entering Northern Ireland must comply with the rules of the single market and the Union Customs Code.”
A joint report on the UK’s withdrawal agreed in December by Prime Minister Theresa May and European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker included both British proposals, along with the third “backstop” option which would keep Northern Ireland in the customs union.
But a version published by the EU in February and agreed by the EU27 in March contained only the “backstop”, effectively drawing a customs Border down the Irish Sea, which a furious Theresa May said “no British prime minister could ever agree”.
DUP leader Arlene Foster has said he did not understand unionist culture and pretended to understand the issues but was “not an honest broker”. 
“Michel Barnier’s trying to present himself as someone who cares deeply about Northern Ireland and if that is the case he needs to hear the fact that we are part of the United Kingdom [and] will remain part of the United Kingdom constitutionally, politically and economically,” she told the BBC on Monday. 
“Therefore his proposal of us being in an all-Ireland regulatory scenario with a Border down the Irish Sea simply does not work. I don’t think he does understand the wider unionist culture of Northern Ireland,” said the Fermanagh-south Tyrone MLA.