DUP leader re­jects Brexit ‘back­stop’

Bangkok Post - - WORLD -

>> BELFAST: The head of the North­ern Ir­ish party, Ar­lene Fos­ter, which props up Bri­tish Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May’s gov­ern­ment said yes­ter­day she would pre­fer no Brexit deal to a bad deal, de­scrib­ing cur­rent plans as amount­ing to “the an­nex­a­tion of North­ern Ire­land” by the EU.

Bri­tish and Euro­pean Union ne­go­tia­tors this month have ac­cel­er­ated the push for a Brexit deal but talks re­main snagged on the is­sue of the bor­der be­tween North­ern Ire­land, which is part of the UK, and the Ir­ish Repub­lic, an EU mem­ber state.

In the ab­sence of a com­pre­hen­sive EU-UK trade part­ner­ship af­ter Brexit, the EU is seek­ing a “back­stop” ar­range­ment whereby North­ern Ire­land would ef­fec­tively re­main sub­ject to the bloc’s reg­u­la­tions to avoid a hard bor­der on the is­land of Ire­land.

But the DUP, whose sup­port Ms May needs to pass leg­is­la­tion in the Bri­tish par­lia­ment, ve­he­mently op­poses any pro­pos­als un­der which the prov­ince would be treated dif­fer­ently to the rest of the UK.

“I fully ap­pre­ci­ate the risks of a ‘no deal’ (Brexit) but the dan­gers of a bad deal are worse,” Ms Fos­ter wrote in an ar­ti­cle in the Belfast Tele­graph yes­ter­day.

“This back­stop ar­range­ment would not be tem­po­rary. It would be the per­ma­nent an­nex­a­tion of North­ern Ire­land away from the rest of the United King­dom and for­ever leave us sub­ject to rules made in a place where we have no say,” she added.

Bri­tain wants any “back­stop” ar­range­ment t o be time-lim­ited. Hard­line sup­port­ers of Brexit in Ms May’s rul­ing Con­ser­va­tive Party fear it could be used to keep the whole UK in­side a cus­toms union in­def­i­nitely with the EU.

The EU is op­posed to any spe­cific cut­off date.

Ms Fos­ter said her party, which has 10 law­mak­ers in the UK par­lia­ment, was not bluff­ing in its tough stance on the talks.

“This is no game. Any­one en­gag­ing in this in a light-hearted way fool­ishly fails to grasp the grav­ity of the de­ci­sions we will make in the com­ing weeks,” Ms Fos­ter said.

“The com­ing days, weeks and months will be crit­i­cal. The de­ci­sions taken will shape the type of North­ern Ire­land that our grand­chil­dren will live in.”

Ms Fos­ter said she wanted to se­cure a deal that would work for both North­ern Ire­land and the Repub­lic of Ire­land and said she would travel to Dublin for talks to­mor­row.

In an ar­ti­cle in an­other North­ern Ire­land news­pa­per, the Belfast News Let­ter, for­mer Bri­tish for­eign min­is­ter Boris John­son also took aim at the back­stop, de­scrib­ing Ms May’s agree­ment to ac­cept a back­stop as a “dread­ful mis­take”. “The only way to put things back on the right track is to ditch the back­stop,” Mr John­son wrote.

NOT A GAME: Leader of North­ern Ire­land’s Demo­cratic Union­ist Party Ar­lene Fos­ter speaks to the press in Brus­sels.

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