Fos­ter: don’t make same mis­take as Thatcher

DUP LEADER CAU­TIONS PM AGAINST A RE­PEAT OF AN­GLO-IR­ISH AGREE­MENT SHE AC­CUSES EURO­PEAN UNION CHIEFS OF LY­ING OVER PRO­POSED DEAL SAYS NI EN­TER­ING ‘CRIT­I­CAL’ PE­RIOD THAT WILL SHAPE IT FOR FU­TURE GEN­ER­A­TIONS

Belfast Telegraph - - FRONT PAGE - BY DAVID YOUNG Ar­lene Fos­ter writes ex­clu­sively in­side

DUP leader Ar­lene Fos­ter last night warned Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May not to have the same “deep re­grets” over a Brexit deal as Mar­garet Thatcher had when she signed the An­glo-Ir­ish Agree­ment.

In a hard-hit­ting mes­sage, Mrs Fos­ter (left) urged the PM to stand firm against what she de­scribed as a “dodgy deal foisted on her by oth­ers”.

DUP leader Ar­lene Fos­ter has warned Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May not to have the same “deep re­grets” over a Brexit deal as Mar­garet Thatcher had when she signed the An­glo-Ir­ish agree­ment.

In a hard-hit­ting mes­sage, Mrs Fos­ter urged the PM to stand firm against what she de­scribed as a “dodgy deal foisted on her by oth­ers”.

Telling Mrs May to make the “right choice”, the for­mer First Min­is­ter cited the An­glo-Ir­ish Agree­ment, say­ing Mrs Thatcher had come to re­gret be­ing per­suaded to sign the 1985 ac­cord, which gave the Ir­ish Govern­ment a for­mal say in North­ern Ire­land af­fairs for the first time.

It came as the UK-EU Brexit ne­go­ti­a­tions reached a crit­i­cal phase.

Writ­ing in to­day’s Belfast Tele­graph, Mrs Fos­ter set out the DUP’s bot­tom line on Brexit: de­fend­ing the in­tegrity of the United King­dom.

“The com­ing days, weeks and months will be crit­i­cal,”

Mrs Fos­ter writes.

“The de­ci­sions taken will shape the type of North­ern Ire­land that our grand­chil­dren will live in.

“The stand we are tak­ing is not about the party, this is about the Union and the shape of the United King­dom for the fu­ture.”

Her re­marks come in a week when the re­la­tion­ship be­tween the DUP and the Con­ser­va­tive Govern­ment — which re­lies on the 10 DUP MP’s votes to keep it in power — came un­der in­creas­ing strain af­ter EU chief ne­go­tia­tor Michel Barnier (above) re­vealed the EU’s Ir­ish ‘back­stop’ plan, which Brex­i­teers fear would see North­ern Ire­land “cut adrift” from the rest of the UK af­ter Brexit. Mrs Fos­ter writes: “Un­der the EU’s plan, Great Bri­tain-based busi­nesses would have a bar­rier when they would seek to trade with North­ern Ire­land.

“Such a bar­rier cuts right to the heart of what is at stake here. The United King­dom is one na­tion.

“There should not be in­ter­na­tional-style bor­ders within it.”

In her ar­ti­cle, Mrs Fos­ter says that the DUP’s ac­tions this week are not just “mus­cle-flex­ing”, as some have im­plied.

“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,” she says.

The Fer­managh and South Ty­rone MLA called on Mrs May to stand by her union­ist prin­ci­ples.

“I be­lieve that the Prime Min­is­ter is in her own be­liefs a com­mit­ted union­ist,” she says. “She should learn from her pre­vi­ous fe­male pre­de­ces­sor, Mar­garet Thatcher. De­spite her union­ist con­vic­tions, oth­ers per­suaded Thatcher to sign the An­glo-Ir­ish Agree­ment.

“She later deeply re­gret­ted the choice she had made. How­ever, we do not want nor need the re­grets of an­other Prime Min­is­ter. We want the right choices made.

“We want her to stand by her prin­ci­ples and in­stincts rather than ac­cept­ing a dodgy deal foisted on her by oth­ers.”

Mrs Fos­ter’s state­ment comes as the party faces crit­i­cism from some Con­ser­va­tives over its tough stance. Yes­ter­day DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds said the party pre­dicted “de­vel­op­ments” in the Govern­ment’s Brexit po­si­tion this week­end.

Ear­lier this week DUP Brexit spokesman Sammy Wil­son (top) said the party might vote against the Govern­ment’s forth­com­ing Bud­get.

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