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Northern Ireland Remain parties sign joint letter rejecting Johnson's Brexit proposals

Tensions: Colum Eastwood
Tensions: Colum Eastwood
Gareth Cross

By Gareth Cross

The leaders of Northern Ireland's Remain-supporting parties have signed a joint letter rejecting Boris Johnson's Brexit proposals.

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In the letter to the Times on Saturday, they said the PM's proposals "demonstrate blatant disregard for people and businesses in Northern Ireland".

It was jointly signed by Sinn Fein vice-president Michelle O'Neill, SDLP leader Colum Eastwood, Alliance leader Naomi Long and Green Party leader Clare Bailey.

The letter comes after Mr Johnson unveiled his plan for the Northern Ireland border in an attempt to break the Brexit stalemate.

The letter added: "The proposals fail the two simple commitments made by the UK government at the beginning of this negotiation: to avoid any hardening of the border on the island of Ireland, and to protect the ethos and provisions of the Good Friday Agreement.

"Any understanding of the history of Northern Ireland would suggest that asking the Northern Ireland Assembly to make a decision with such significant undertones serves only to exacerbate the tensions in our peace process already exposed by Brexit.

"It will fundamentally strain those core relationships that underpin peace in Northern Ireland and inject permanent instability into an already fragile assembly, as well into business and the wider community."

The proposals have been backed by the DUP, but rejected by the UUP and TUV.

Yesterday TUV leader Jim Allister said the DUP's support was "staggering".

He said: "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."

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