Belfast Telegraph

Brexit: Dodds blasts Dublin for intransigence, but DUP comes under fire too

Nigel Dodds (Dominic Lipinski/PA)
Nigel Dodds (Dominic Lipinski/PA)
Suzanne Breen

By Suzanne Breen

The DUP has accused Leo Varadkar of "intransigence" over the UK's Brexit proposals and claimed he could go down in history as the Taoiseach who restored a harder border in Ireland.

The party's deputy leader Nigel Dodds made the stinging denunciation of Mr Varadkar as the DUP faced extensive criticism from unionist rivals, and as business leaders rejected the Prime Minister's Brexit plan.

Belfast Chamber of Trade and Commerce chief executive Simon Hamilton - a former DUP finance minister - said it risked raising the cost of doing business with the EU and seriously disrupting vital supply chains.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson
Prime Minister Boris Johnson

Speaking in Stockholm, Mr Varadkar said that the blueprint "falls short on a number of aspects" and that the British people wanted a second referendum.

Tanaiste Simon Coveney told the Dail the proposals were "not the basis for a final deal or agreement" and would lead to no-deal if significant changes weren't made.

Mr Dodds said: "The incendiary and outrageous comments by Leo Varadkar and his Foreign Minister are a clear ramping up of rhetoric designed to derail any realistic prospect of a deal.

"The flippant Dublin reaction to the Prime Minister's proposals has also exposed the reality that the Irish government would never have consented to the UK leaving the backstop if it had been implemented.

"Our message to Leo is simple. He should reflect on his comments and his intransigent approach.

"He is destined to go down in history as the Taoiseach who restored a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland because his friends in Brussels will insist on it."

Mrs Foster said: "Simon Coveney's remarks are deeply unhelpful, obstructionist and intransigent.

"The Irish government's majoritarian desire to ride roughshod over unionism was one of the reasons why the Withdrawal Agreement was rejected.

"Mr Coveney's rejection of a reasonable offer is paving the road for a no-deal exit because unionism will not allow Northern Ireland to be trapped at the whim of Dublin or the EU. We will not buy that.

"The Irish government's preparedness to dump the consent principle for their country's expediency is foolish in the extreme and sends a very clear message to unionists."

But the DUP was accused of being conned by Mr Johnson's Brexit proposals which were "worse than the backstop".

MLA Steve Aiken said: "If the DUP had a Brexit strategy to begin with it has been an absolute shambles.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar

"They have been taken for a ride by those who want to see Brexit done even if Northern Ireland's place within the Union is the cost.

"The DUP heralding this new arrangement as a victory is as bizarre as it is insulting to the intelligence of the people of Northern Ireland. We can kiss goodbye to any hope of stability if we are going to effectively hold a referendum on the floor of the Assembly every four years."

Mr Hamilton, who ended his DUP career to become Belfast Chamber chief executive just last month, said: "We have made it clear that we want businesses to be able to trade with the EU without a hard border and with the rest of the UK unencumbered.

"We are therefore deeply concerned that the Prime Minister's proposals do neither and run the risk of increasing the cost of doing business with the EU and seriously disrupt vital supply chains.

"Belfast Chamber urges all sides to engage in further negotiations aimed at achieving an outcome which avoids the undoubted damage that a no deal Brexit would do to our economy."

Sinn Fein vice president Michelle O'Neill said Irish unity was "the democratic alternative to the unwanted Brexit being foisted upon citizens here".

Speaking in Dundalk last night, she said: "The people on the island of Ireland should have a choice between Brexit and independence. Everyone is being challenged to rethink their economic future.

"There is an onus on the Irish government to engage in this debate and to begin such preparatory work now in parallel with the conversations which have started in civil society.

"Long-term policies and resilient economic calculations, potential savings and synergies of the cost of reunification need to be developed by the Taoiseach and by the Dublin government. We need a national dialogue about the constitutional future."

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