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DUP to meet with business groups to discuss concerns

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SDLP leader Colum Eastwood

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood

Senior DUP politicians will meet Northern Ireland business groups at Stormont this morning to discuss their stance over the withdrawal deal.

The DUP's opposition to the Prime Minister's draft plan has caused a rift with the business and farming communities.

The party will meet with the CBI, the NI Retail Consortium, the Chamber of Commerce and several food and drink umbrella groups in the hope of "smoothing over" recent tensions.

A series of leading industry bodies have said Theresa May's deal is better than crashing out of the EU with nothing in place.

But the DUP argues that her agreement is "worse than no deal" and that its 10 MPs will vote against it in Parliament. The groups are also scheduled to meet with the four Stormont parties opposed to Brexit - Sinn Fein, the SDLP, Alliance Party and the Green Party.

Ahead of the meeting SDLP leader Colum Eastwood said the deal "leaves Northern Ireland in a unique position, allowing us to continue trade with both the UK and EU".

"It prevents a hard border and it future-proofs our economy by securing the backstop," he added.

"The SDLP is grateful to those in civic roles who have voiced their approval for this deal.

"Brexit is more than a political decision, its implications will be felt in all sections of society, and that is why it is vitally important political leaders continue to widen the discussion."

Belfast Telegraph