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DUP's Sammy Wilson tells Raab, 'take a leaf out of Trump book' in Brexit talks

By Jonathan Bell

DUP MP Sammy Wilson has told Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab to take a leaf out of Donald Trump's book in his talks with EU officials on Thursday.

Overnight the EU and US agreed to work toward lowering trade barriers with each other. It comes after months of heightened tensions between the two which threatened a trade war.

The US president said the two had agreed to launch a "new phase" in relations. Mr Trump declared it a "very big day for free and fair trade".

Sammy Wilson said Mr Trump had "forced" the EU into a U-turn.

"Only weeks ago, there was no sign of any such willingness of the EU countries to reconsider their selfish one-sided approach to dealing with these issues," he said.

Thursday sees new Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab head to Brussels for face-to-face talks with Michel Barnier, the EU's chief negotiator.

Writing in The Daily Mail Mr Raab said that while 80% of the withdrawal agreement had been agreed, "Mr Barnier and I will be discussing how we complete the remaining 20 per cent, including guarantees to avoid a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland."

Mr Wilson said the minister went into the talks with a strong hand. He said that while a no deal would have "severe implications" for EU economies there would be some "disruption".

He said Mr Raab had to make it clear there could never be a customs border down the Irish Sea separating Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK.

He added: "The UK still has significant leverage if there is a political will to use it. He has the strong hand of threatening trade barriers against EU goods coming into the UK, trade on which millions of EU jobs depend and a trade surplus which bolsters EU economies.

"Preparations for a no deal would have severe implications for economies such as the Irish, French and Germans and whilst it may cause some short term disruption, proper preparations for that disruption could minimise the impact as already been indicated by a number of international agencies.

"From a Northern Ireland perspective he needs to make it clear that however much Barnier insists that there be no withdrawal agreement without a back stop arrangement for the Northern Ireland border, the British government will not sign up to any arrangement which now or in the future, separates, or has the potential to separate, Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK.

"Now is not the time for sweet talk.

"Donald Trump has shown that they respond to strength, determination and credible threats.  That should be the guiding principle for our negotiations between now and October and the role over tactics displayed during the negotiations on the withdrawal agreement must now be brought to an end."

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