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Integrity of UK comes first, Brexit secretary David Davis tells MPs in wake of Ireland border shambles

UK unified on leaving the EU, says Dodds

By Jonathan Bell

Brexit Secretary David Davis has stressed to the House of Commons the "integrity of the UK comes first" in the ongoing Brexit talks and there will be no part of it remaining in the single market or customs union.

He also told MPs an agreement with the EU was close and the issues of maintaining a frictionless border on the island of Ireland would be dealt with in the second phase of the Brexit talks.

Mr Davis was speaking during an emergency question in the Commons. The Labour Shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer described the collapse of the agreement on Monday, which he said was at the behest of the DUP, gave new meaning to the term "coalition of chaos".

David Davis stressed Northern Ireland would not remain in the EU single market or its customs union.

"We recognise as we exit the EU we must respect the integrity of the single market and the customs union. But we are equally clear we must respect the integrity of the United Kingdom," he said.

No UK Government would do so a foolish thing let alone a Conservative and unionist one. David Davis

He said there were ongoing talks and expected further meetings to take place later this week. He said he wanted to "rebut one falsehood stirred up by our political opponents".

"The suggestion we might leave the EU but leave one part of the United Kingdom behind still in the single market and customs market that is emphatically not something the UK government is considering," he said.

"So when the first minister of Wales or the first minister of Scotland starts banging the tattered drum of independence or the mayor of London says it justifies a hard border around the M25, I say they are making a foolish mistake.

"No UK Government would do so a foolish thing let alone a Conservative and unionist one."

The DUP tail is wagging the Tory dog. Keir Starmer

Sir Keir called on the government to reconsider its terms on leaving the EU with remaining in the single market and customs union put back on the negotiating table. He also said the March 29, 2019 exit date should be reconsidered.

"The DUP tail is wagging the Tory dog," Sir Keir said, "What an embarrassment.

"It's one thing to go to Brussels and fall out with those on the other side of the negotiating table."

Brexit talks were thrown into chaos when a deal was agreed in principle only for the UK to withdraw at the last minute after Prime Minister Theresa May and DUP leader Arlene Foster spoke on the phone.

Nothing will happen that will cause the break up of this great United Kingdom. Nigel Dodds

Speaking during the debate, DUP Westminster leader Nigel Dodds attacked the Irish government saying its actions had damaged relationships which would take a "long time to repair".

He said the sentiments echoed by Scotland First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, the Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones and London Mayor Sadiq Khan about getting the same concessions as Northern Ireland in the Brexit deal showed unity.

"Any divergence political or economically from the rest of the UK would be politically damaging and economically catastrophic for all in Northern Ireland be they unionist, nationalist, remainer or Brexiteer.

"There is now an agreement the United Kingdom stands together and nothing will happen that will cause the break up of this great United Kingdom."

Mr Davis said the comments were "absolutely right".

"No surprise the DUP stand for a United kingdom and so does the Conservatives equally."

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