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Brexit: 'Betrayal' deal would inflict huge damage on the Union, says Allister

TUV leader Jim Allister
TUV leader Jim Allister
Alliance deputy leader Stephen Farry

By Suzanne Breen, political editor

TUV leader Jim Allister has accused the Prime Minister of "betrayal of the highest order" over his Brexit deal.

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Mr Allister said the exit declarations proposed for goods traded with Britain would inflict huge economic and constitutional damage on the Union.

"If exit declarations are required to trade within our own UK, what are we exiting? For us, sadly, it seems more like we are exiting the UK than the EU," said the TUV leader.

Mr Allister added that Boris Johnson's proposals tore at the very fabric of the Union.

"To see his promise that no Prime Minister could ever agree to such torn up so spectacularly is betrayal of the highest order. It is made all the worse by the fact that from his past utterances he knew he was betraying the Union of Great Britain and Northern Ireland," he said.

However, Sinn Fein MP Chris Hazzard said that Westminster offered nothing but "chaos and confusion".

"The British Parliament has its head in the sand, debating a Queen's Speech setting out things that will never happen. It is fiddling while Rome burns," he added.

"The Tories may have pushed pause on their Brexit legislation, but the clock is still ticking towards Brexit and its devastating consequences for the North.

"The DUP do not speak for the North and have again set their face against the interests of businesses, farmers and the majority in the North who did not consent to Brexit.

"Brexit solutions will not be found at Westminster. It is time the people of the North had their say on their own future in line with the Good Friday Agreement."

But Alliance deputy leader Stephen Farry said it was positive that Parliament had the time to scrutinise the Brexit deal because it contained major flaws.

"This is not the original backstop, which was painstakingly negotiated with input from local stakeholders. This deal has been pulled together in a hurry in closed rooms with little testing of the concepts," he explained.

"Even the Government is struggling to explain the implications or functionality of what it has agreed.

"Time needs to be taken for the Government to consider how to implement it or, perhaps more importantly, for it to reconsider Brexit itself via a people's vote or a move towards a softer Brexit in which the entire UK would be part of a customs union with the EU."

Ulster Unionist MLA Steve Aiken said: "At this stage of the process, it's simply not credible to believe that the economic and constitutional damage that will be done to Northern Ireland's place within the Union by the Prime Minister's deal will be undone by what is being proposed.

"It emphasises the need for thorough scrutiny of every single line and paragraph of the Prime Minister's deal, providing opportunity for amendment by those who do have Northern Ireland's best interests at heart."

Speaking on BBC Radio Ulster yesterday, DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds noted that his party's votes had twice proved critical in defeating the Government in the past week.

He said that in order to avoid issues regarding the Irish land border, Mr Johnson was creating "exactly the same problems" regarding an Irish Sea border.

Mr Dodds said he would prefer an amended Brexit deal than a general election, "but if it takes an election to sort it out, then so be it".

He denied the DUP had been "fools or puppets" in their dealings with Mr Johnson and said the party had only ever trusted itself and its voters.

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