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Brexit: UUP chair accuses DUP of trying to 'run away' after shooting down plan to break deadlock

 

Veteran unionist Lord Empey
Veteran unionist Lord Empey

By Eimear McGovern

The former leader of the UUP has accused the DUP of 'opening the floodgates' after Nigel Dodds poured cold water over the reported Brexit compromise to end the deadlock posed by the backstop.

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Lord Empey, who is currently the chair of the UUP said the DUP is now trying to 'run away' after realising their 'monumental blunder' in endorsing the Prime Minister’s Brexit proposals as a “serious and sensible way forward”.

The DUP was accused earlier this month of backing down on its vehement opposition to any agreement that resulted in a new regulatory border between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.

It's after Arlene Foster said an increased role for Stormont put forward by the new proposals provided the democratic accountability she desired - and that the ability for the Assembly to opt in and out of the tabled all-Ireland regulatory arrangements was the “big difference” from the previous withdrawal deal.

Lord Empey said: "The DUP opened the floodgates by agreeing and advocating a regulatory border in the Irish Sea. This was the green light that Dublin and Brussels were waiting for.

"Knowing the political jam that Boris Johnson is in, Dublin and Brussels applied pressure and Boris Johnson, with the blessing of the DUP, gave way. Given that some of Boris Johnson`s advisers couldn't care less about Northern Ireland and the Union, this is no surprise.

"Nigel Dodds must take responsibility for opening this can of worms. He and his colleagues have been out-flanked, but it is the ordinary business people and the rest of us who will be asked to pay the price," he said.

Nigel Dodds
Nigel Dodds

The prime minister's proposed solution to break the Brexit deadlock cannot work because Northern Ireland must remain fully in the customs union, Nigel Dodds said on Sunday.

Italian newspaper La Repubblica quoted Nigel Dodds as saying that Boris Johnson knew their position. "No, it cannot work," Dodds said, "because Northern Ireland has to remain fully part of the UK customs union".

Meanwhile, the leader of the House of Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg said on Sunday the prospects of a Brexit deal look more positive than they did last week.

Speaking on Ridge On Sunday on Sky News, Mr Rees-Mogg said that the British cabinet will be briefed on the state of negotiations with the EU at lunchtime.

Reports from the Brussels claimed Boris Johnson has sought to revive a proposal which was first put forward by Theresa May for a customs partnership between the UK and the EU.

The scheme would see Northern Ireland remain politically in a customs union with the EU but it would be administered by the UK.

It's intended to avoid the need for customs controls on the island of Ireland.

Mr Dodds told the Italian newspaper "There is a lot of stuff coming from Brussels, pushed by the Europeans in the last hours, but one thing is sure: Northern Ireland must remain fully part of the UK customs union. And Boris Johnson knows it very well."

British officials have been tight-lipped in the face of the reports.

The reported plan would create a customs border in the Irish Sea with goods travelling from the rest of the UK to Northern Ireland being subject to tariffs which Britain would collect on behalf of the EU.

Businesses would then be able to claim a rebate once they had shown the goods were for consumption in the UK market.

However it would mean that Northern Ireland would be able to benefit from any post-Brexit trade deals the UK struck with other countries around the world.

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