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
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.