Belfast Telegraph

DUP intransigence could yet scupper Brexit, says Miller

By Brett Campbell

The DUP could end up being the party that stops Brexit, a campaigner has claimed.

Anti-Brexit crusader Gina Miller made the statement as she addressed business delegates in Newry yesterday.

Ms Miller, who also criticised former First Minister Arlene Foster's "lack of sensibility", said she believes the entrenched position of the DUP could backfire in spectacular fashion.

"The DUP has its agenda, but the irony is that the very thing they are fighting for could have the outcome they dread the most, and I think the thing they are dreading is going to be the thing that happens," she said after concluding her End The Chaos event yesterday.

She cited Mrs Foster's "offensive" blood red line' description earlier this week as an example of her party alienating voters and leaving Prime Minister Theresa May with no wriggle room in negotiations.

"To lack basic sensibilities and use the word blood was so disrespectful to all the people who died in the conflict. She should absolutely not have done that," Ms Miller added. "That's the kind of digging your heels in that is going to backfire."

The businesswoman, who won a High Court case to ensure that Parliament has the final say on any Brexit deal, also dismissed as fantasy the European Research Group proposals to use "imaginary technology" to avoid a hard border.

"I have been told by the biggest global technology providers that the proposals are impossible," she said.

As a result she does not believe agreement can be reached in time for a crunch Summit in Brussels on October 17, when EU leaders will meet to discuss a possible Brexit deal with the UK.

"I believe we are heading towards a General Election which will give the people a chance to have the last say," she added.

Ms Miller also took aim at business leaders who refuse to speak up about the danger and who say one thing in private and a different thing in public.

"I invited 25 to this event and they all said no - the Consumer Council pulled out at the last minute with no explanation, which is a dereliction of duty," she said.

The statutory body said it had wanted to attend but had existing diary commitments.

However, Ms Miller did express some sympathy with those intimidated by "a climate of fear" which sees her receive daily death threats.

During the multi-panel event in the Sean Hollywood Arts Centre, she read out a "moving and historic" message from US Senator George Mitchell, who played a crucial role in brokering the 1998 Agreement.

In it he called for politicians involved in Brexit negotiations to reflect on the work of their predecessors, who displayed "extraordinary courage" in securing a deal to end decades of bloodshed in "dangerous and difficult" circumstances.

Mr Mitchell also recalled a commitment to avoiding a hard border made by the UK Government and the EU in December 2017 - a promise he said "we should all insist is kept'.

Panel member and policy manager at the Freight Transport Association, Seamus Leheny, was among the business leaders and academics who warned of chaotic consequences of a reckless Brexit.

He said the A1 road, which leads to the border, could be transformed into a massive car park "to rival Dover" and that only 60 transport lorries from here could be allowed to operate within the European Union at any one time.

Ms Miller told the small audience that a failure to stop "a buccaneering bunch of scheming, quarrelsome Westminster politicians with an extreme agenda" hanging Northern Ireland out to dry could see a "new Calais" emerge on the border.

Belfast Telegraph

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