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DUP's backing of PM's Brexit proposals is 'bad for the economy and unionism'

Anger: Jim Allister
Anger: Jim Allister
Lauren Harte

By Lauren Harte

The DUP's decision to support Boris Johnson's controversial Brexit proposals is an act of surrender, unionist rivals have claimed.

The Prime Minister's plans to place the backstop would see Northern Ireland apply EU rules on goods, but stay in a customs territory with the UK.

This would create a regulatory barrier for goods crossing the Irish Sea and create a customs border between Northern Ireland and the Republic - but Mr Johnson has insisted there would be no need for checks or infrastructure at the frontier.

DUP support for Mr Johnson's proposals have left it isolated.

TUV leader Jim Allister accused the DUP of "surrendering on a principle central to our sovereignty".

"While GB breaks free and diverges from EU rules, we will remain subject to laws we cannot change and had no part in making," he said.

"To think that the DUP has signed up to such is staggering. Not just does it breach their blood red line, but it sets us up for economic unity with the Republic and increasing divergence from GB.

"The direction of travel is clear and it certainly does not involve the UK leaving the EU as one nation, rather our part is left behind in a foreign single market."

DUP Brexit spokesman Sammy Wilson said last night that his party has worked with the Prime Minister to place a reasonable proposal on the table. He added: "It may not be perfect but it's a fair deal. It recognises our unique situation and respects the referendum result.

"Many of those who criticise the Prime Minister's proposals either want no Brexit or else no deal. The DUP wants a sensible deal which works for every part of the United Kingdom as well as our neighbours in the Republic of Ireland."

Meanwhile, Ulster Unionist Brexit spokesperson Steve Aiken has called on DUP leader Arlene Foster and her South Belfast MLA Christopher Stalford to apologise for dismissing newspaper reports about the DUP removing its 'red lines' as "nonsense".

"It is very clear that the Foster/Johnson proposal for a border in the Irish Sea, supported and promoted by Mrs Foster's DUP colleagues, is a bad deal for Northern Ireland and a bad deal for unionism," he said.

"Given that this will be the starting point for negotiations with the EU, what else are the DUP prepared to give up in their pursuit of a deal with the EU? With one 'blood red line' already having been washed away - what else is up for grabs?" Mr Aiken asked.

The UUP MLA for South Antrim added: "How can people believe what the DUP say given that when The Times newspaper reported that the DUP had moved on its red lines, Arlene Foster dismissed the report as "nonsense" and Christopher Stalford told BBC's The View that he did "not recognise it as factual" and protested that it wasn't the position of the party?

"Will Arlene and Christopher now apologise for making those statements?

"Will they now admit that The Times' reporting was indeed accurate?

"The problem for all of us is that the DUP have surrendered a key point of principle on the economic and constitutional integrity of the UK to enable them to agree a deal with Boris Johnson.

"They should tell everyone what they have been offered to enable the DUP to attempt to sell such a horrendous deal for Northern Ireland."

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