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'It should not have been like this' - Foster blasts PM as she seeks longer Brexit extension

Arlene Foster
Arlene Foster
Gareth Cross

By Gareth Cross

DUP leader Arlene Foster has hit out at Prime Minister Theresa May's "disorganised and slapdash" approach to Brexit negotiations.

Mrs Foster was speaking after Mrs May wrote to the European Union to request a further Brexit delay until June 30 in an attempt to find a solution.

A previous request for a June 30 extension was rejected by the EU because of the need for the UK to take part in upcoming European elections.

In her letter the PM indicated that the UK would be willing to field candidates in the European Parliamentary elections on May 23 if an agreement cannot be reached by then.

If a deal is reached the UK would then seek to leave the EU before the June deadline.

As it stands the UK will leave the EU without a deal on April 12, though if MPs can agree on a plan, a further extension could be granted until May 22.

Mrs Foster said that the latest extension request from the PM "is unsurprising but unsatisfactory".

"Exiting the EU has become chaotic because of intransigence in Brussels and ineffectiveness in London," the Fermanagh and South Tyrone MLA said.

"The United Kingdom fighting European elections almost three years after a clear majority voted to leave the EU sums up the disorganised and slapdash approach taken to negotiations by the Prime Minister.

"We want a sensible deal which protects the Union and respects the referendum result but it was foolish strategically in the negotiations to limit the UK’s leverage by removing ‘no deal’ from the table."

PA Graphics
PA Graphics

The DUP leader also criticised the PM's negotiations with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn as she seeks to break the Brexit deadlock.

"The Prime Minister should not waste any extension by subcontracting the UK’s future to Jeremy Corbyn," Mrs Foster said.

"This time should be used to get a better deal which works for every part of the United Kingdom so the entire nation can leave the European Union together.”

It is understood that European Council President Donald Tusk will propose a 12-month extension to Brexit, with the option of cutting it short if an agreement is reached.

However French President Emmanuel Macron's office released a statement on Friday saying that it was "premature" to consider another delay.

Mrs May is set to travel to Brussels next Wednesday for an EU summit, ahead of the UK's tentative departure date of April 12.  

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