Brexit deal that works for everyone 'eminently possible', claims DUP's Arlene Foster
DUP leader Arlene Foster has said that she believes a Brexit deal that works for everyone is "eminently possible" if the political will exists to make it happen.
Mrs Foster was speaking to BBC Radio Ulster's Good Morning Ulster programme ahead of a meeting with the European Union's chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier in Brussels on Tuesday.
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UUP leader Robin Swann will also meet with Mr Barnier in a separate meeting.
He held a joint meeting with representatives from Sinn Fein, the SDLP, Alliance and the Green Party on Friday.
Mrs Foster said that she wanted to see a deal reached, but that her party would not be budging on its red lines.
The DUP have been adamant that they will not accept a border in the Irish Sea or any plan that differentiates Northern Ireland from the rest of the United Kingdom (UK).
Meeting with @MichelBarnier .— Arlene Foster (@DUPleader) October 9, 2018
- As outlined in par 50 of the Dec 2017 joint report, there cannot be barriers to trade erected between NI and the rest of the UK. GB is our main market.
- The UK voted to leave the EU. Result must be respected. The nation must leave together. pic.twitter.com/fVWBoIvOQW
Asked what she would be saying to Mr Barnier, Mrs Foster stressed the need for open trade between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.
"It is very important, critical we would say, that there are no barriers created in the single market of the UK so we can trade with Great Britain (GB) as we do at the moment and Great Britain can trade with us," the DUP leader said.
"It's very important that is the case.
"All we know is the Prime Minister has been clear that there can be no customs barriers between different parts of the UK and there can't be different regulatory borders either, we were very pleased with what she had to say after the Salzburg conference."
The Fermanagh and South Tyrone MLA said that her party will not agree to any new checks on goods.
"Once Northern Ireland diverges from its main market that's when the problems arise, GB is our main market, over two-thirds of what we produce goes to GB and we cannot allow any barriers to be put up as that would cause us to be less competitive than the rest of the UK and be difficult for our export.
"Our one red line has to be respected, there cannot be any barriers between ourselves and the rest of the UK.
"We cannot have the single market of the UK interfered with and that's the message we will be giving to Michel Barnier today.
Mrs Foster said that her party was under "no pressure at all" to accept regulatory checks.
"We want a sensible Brexit, but one that does not cut off part of the UK in a way that would damage the constitution of Northern Ireland and the economy."
The DUP leader said that she remained hopeful a deal could be reached.
"I very much hope that there is a deal in a number of weeks. I hope that there is realism that you cannot separate out part of a nation from the rest of the nation," Mrs Foster said.
"I hope it's a deal that works for Northern Ireland and the whole of the UK, I have to say that for our neighbours in the Republic of Ireland aswell. I think it's eminently possible if the political will is there to make it happen."
Belfast Telegraph Digital