Belfast Telegraph

Home News Brexit

Brexit breakthrough: Changes DUP forced through revealed and Donaldson warns party will act if any deviation

Deal uses strong DUP language, says MP

By Jonathan Bell

The DUP's Sir Jeffrey Donaldson has outlined what changes the DUP secured in Friday's Brexit deal, warning if there was any deviation from the agreement the party would act, hinting at withdrawal of support for the government.

In the early hours of Friday morning a deal was announced allowing the Brexit negotiations to progress to the second phase of trade talks. It follows a DUP intervention which scuppered a deal earlier in the week. Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, who was part of the DUP negotiating team which worked on the agreement, hailed Northern Ireland "the winner" in the agreement.

Speaking to the BBC he outlined the input his party had and the changes that were made to allow the final text to be agreed.

"Of course this is just phase one and negotiations will continue in phase two to work out all the detail," he said.

"But I think the broad parameters are there now to enable Northern Ireland to continue benefiting from being part of the UK but at the same time we can continue trading with our neighbours in the Irish republic.

"The key element for us in all this is that nothing would be done that would create a border in the Irish Sea."

On the changes he said an explicit clause was inserted that Northern Ireland would leave the customs union and single market and there would be no border in the Irish Sea.

"That wasn't explicit or clear enough in the draft text - it is now crystal clear," Sir Jeffrey said.

"The document now uses very strong DUP language such as 'unfettered access' for Northern Ireland business to whole of UK internal market. Those words were added to the document as a result of DUP intervention and that is critical, absolutely crucial for Northern Ireland economy we continue to have that access.

"In essence as result of changes we made, Northern Ireland will remain as part of the UK politically, economically and in terms of our market and trade."

The Lagan Valley MP rejected there would be "full alignment" between the EU and UK in the result of a no deal scenario but rather that that clause concerned referred to specific areas of north south co-operation, which were "quite narrow".

"It is not in any circumstance we would have full alignment with the EU and the rules of the customs market and single union. We are talking about very narrow ground.

"Of course if there is no deal, all of this falls."

He added: "Only a fool would argue otherwise that Northern Ireland is not leaving the single market and customs union."

Sir Jeffrey said there will be votes in parliament on the Brexit deal and "if there is any deviation from what we have secured for Northern Ireland we will act to deal with that".

He added: "We have the clarity we need and that clarity will continue right through [the negotiations].

"The Prime Minister has made it quite clear, there will be no outcome from phase two that does not take care of Northern Ireland's interests as part of the United Kingdom.

"We are satisfied - we have clear principles established in the negotiation process that will safeguard Northern Ireland's position.

"We now have good basis for moving that forward."

Belfast Telegraph Digital

Daily News Headlines Newsletter

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox.


From Belfast Telegraph