Tory leadership hopeful Boris Johnson was quizzed alongside his contender, UK foreign minister Jeremy Hunt, at a hustings on Northern Irish policies in Belfast on Tuesday.
During the Q&A session, Mr Johnson said that the backstop represented the “incoherence” of Mrs May’s strategy towards Brexit negotiations.
When asked whether there should be a snap referendum across Northern Ireland on the contentious backstop, Mr Johnson said that the “only thing that will snap is people’s patience”. The future PM would have an difficult choice between accepting European law or giving up control of government in Northern Ireland.
“That’s a choice I completely reject,” Mr Johnson said, adding that he would do whatever he could to energise talks, but urged others to recognise that Northern Irish citizens were “losing out”.
When questioned about failures on part of the Northern Ireland Assembly, he said that both sides should ‘get on with it’ and that there was a scope for compromise to resolve differences between Downing Street and Stormont.
Whilst the Tory hopeful dismissed outgoing UK prime minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal as “dead”, he said that the government could salvage some elements of the deal such as citizen rights.