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Arlene Foster: I will always have the desire to be an MP


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First Minister Arlene Foster (Liam McBurney/PA)

First Minister Arlene Foster (Liam McBurney/PA)

PA

First Minister Arlene Foster (Liam McBurney/PA)

Arlene Foster has spoken of her future ambitions of becoming an MP when her time as First Minister comes to an end.

In an interview with the Institute of Economic Affairs, Mrs Foster also claimed the Prime Minister was ready to listen to DUP concerns about the Northern Ireland Protocol after a week of violence on the streets.

On her career plans, she said: "I've always had a desire to go to Westminster, I've never hidden that fact, because it is the mother of Parliaments."

While confirming she would never rule out becoming an MP, she added: "At the moment I have quite an in-tray to deal with as First Minister of Northern Ireland and I'll certainly continue to do that for as long as I'm able to."

Discussing the ongoing tensions with the government over the Northern Ireland Protocol, she said: "I think the Prime Minister for his own part is beginning to realise the huge impact that the protocol is having."

She said this was not only to do with trade but "the awful scenes on our streets."

"The protocol has contributed to that because people feel that they're being treated differently from the rest of the United Kingdom."

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She continued: "What we have here is the internal market of a sovereign country actually being disrupted by rules that have been set down by the European Union, and you can imagine why those of us who are unionists are very offended by that, because we have no say in those rules.

"Those rules are set by the European Union from now on and there is a huge democratic deficit in relation to that."

Mrs Foster also called for a "realistic and sustainable" replacement for the Northern Ireland Protocol.

"I don't think a rolling grace period is really the answer, I think that what we need to see is a replacement for the protocol and one that recognises the very integrated supply chain of the United Kingdom, between Great Britain and Northern Ireland."

Her interview follows criticism this week from Sinn Fein's John O'Dowd, who claimed the DUP's support for a bad Brexit deal was partly to blame for the recent disorder in Northern Ireland.

Speaking on Newsnight, Mr O'Dowd said: "The DUP's support for a right-wing Conservative form of Brexit has caused huge problems for the island of Ireland and the relationships across the border.

"As a result, we had political failures and I think this is an attempt by political unionism to hide the failings that they have made in this political era."


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