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Brexit: Northern Ireland will leave on same terms as rest of UK, insists DUP chief Foster

Arlene Foster has said Northern Ireland will leave the EU on the same terms as the rest of the UK.

The comments come as a rebuff to suggestions Northern Ireland could be afforded post-Brexit special status.

The DUP leader made the comments ahead of a meeting scheduled for Tuesday between her party and Prime Minister Theresa May.

Theresa May is will meet separately on Tuesday afternoon with Sinn Fein.

On Monday, the EU's chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier asked the British government to detail which specific trade rules would be introduced to ensure equivalence between Northern Ireland and the Republic.

Responding to this, Mrs Foster said: "Northern Ireland will exit the EU on the same terms as the rest of the United Kingdom.  We will not countenance a border in the Irish Sea.

"I welcome the Prime Minister’s commitment on this point.  The GB market is not only critical for Northern Ireland but for the Republic of Ireland.  We want to see a sensible arrangement that can work for all concerned. The democratic wishes of the British people must be implemented."

Mrs Foster added: "Those in Dublin and Brussels, wrecklessly trying to use Northern Ireland for their own objectives, should cease.  The Prime Minister should warn Brussels that Northern Ireland must not be used as blackmail."

Tuesday's separate meetings between Sinn Fein and the DUP and the Prime Minister will focus on the political stalemate at Stormont.

Negotiations between Northern Ireland's two largest parties have been on hold since Secretary of State James Brokenshire introduced a budget for Northern Ireland to the House of Commons last week.

An Irish Language Act remains the biggest stumbling block to an agreement.

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