Belfast Telegraph

Brexit: Foster dismisses as 'nonsense' claims DUP accepts proposal on Stormont consent

Nigel Dodds and Arlene Foster have attended a series of meeting in London over recent days
Nigel Dodds and Arlene Foster have attended a series of meeting in London over recent days

Arlene Foster has dismissed as "nonsense" reports her party has accepted a Brexit proposal to give Northern Ireland a say on future EU alignment.

The DUP leader said discussions would continue and a deal needed to be "sensible" and have the support of both unionists and nationalists.

Mrs Foster and senior figures in the party met again with Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Wednesday - the third time in as many days - as the time for reaching a deal rapidly evaporates.

The former Brexit Secretary David Davis said that many Conservative MPs consider the view of the DUP on a new Brexit agreement as "quite important".

Speaking to the BBC, Mr Davis said many MPs from the party would "take their line" from the DUP.

If the DUP say the deal is "intolerable" then that opinion is "quite important", he said.

RTE reported three issues remained, those being consent for Stormont, VAT and for "level playing field agreements" in future trade talks.

It said it appeared the potential deal would see NI remain in the EU's VAT area with a new mechanism needed for trade between NI and the rest of the UK.

On the consent principle the broadcaster reported the UK was pushing for a tighter Stormont lock in order to satisfy last minute DUP demands.

RTE Europe Editor Tony Connelly reported of two sources claiming the "main stumbling block to a deal has been removed with the DUP accepting the latest proposals on consent".

"Optimism a deal can now be done," he added.

Responding, Arlene Foster said: "EU sources' [sic] are talking nonsense. Discussions continue.  Needs to be a sensible deal which unionists and nationalists can support."

EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier is to provide an update to ambassadors later on Wednesday afternoon.

It's been reported Brussels sources are hopeful a deal can be done on Wednesday but much depended on what happened in London.

Last night after a meeting at Number 10 a DUP spokesman said gaps remained and work was still to be done to get agreement.

Talks went on through the night between the EU and the UK and resumed early on Wednesday morning.

As speculation mounted over what any deal could look like the value of the pound fluctuated.

Market data showed its value rose by 0.8% with rumour of a breakthrough with the DUP, while it dropped by 0.4% in value after Arlene Foster's dismissal of the claims.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said he was “confident” a deal can be struck by the current deadline and raised the prospect of another EU summit being held in the coming weeks.

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