Belfast Telegraph

DUP's Arlene Foster urges PM May to 'focus on the core issues' to ensure Brexit is a success

Westminster turmoil must not hamper process, says DUP leader

By Political Reporters

DUP leader Arlene Foster has called on Theresa May to focus on ensuring a positive Brexit.

Mrs Foster acknowledged the "febrile" atmosphere at Westminster made it difficult, but said it was important to bring stability and address the major issues.

Her party agreed a deal with the Conservatives in June whereby the DUP's 10 pro-Brexit MPs support the minority Government on key issues like leaving the EU.

Mrs Foster said: "I think what Theresa May and her Government need to do now is to focus on the big issues of the day.

"That is why we got into this confidence and supply arrangement - to focus on our exit from the EU, to do that in a positive way, and to bring stability to the nation.

"It's so important that she focuses on the big issues and doesn't get thrown off. I know that's very difficult when there is so much noise going on, but that's exactly what she must do."

The Prime Minister is coping with ministerial resignations and a Westminster sexual harassment scandal amid the ongoing debate around Brexit.

Mrs May has been warned by a senior German MEP that talks on a trade deal with the EU may not be given the green light next month.

Mrs Foster has repeatedly criticised Jeremy Corbyn as being beyond the political Pale due to his past support for republicans and said she was concerned about the impact of a Labour Government on the peace process.

She told The House political magazine: "He would be very clearly partisan towards republicanism.

"It would be disastrous for Northern Ireland, because of his previous utterances in relation to Northern Ireland, and his support for the IRA at a time when nobody else was supporting the IRA."

Earlier this year Mr Corbyn said he had wanted the violence to stop, but refused to single out the IRA for condemnation.

Following endless negotiations with Sinn Fein on reforming the stalled power-sharing administration, Mrs Foster said there had been a hardening of attitudes.

She claimed Sinn Fein wanted devolution on its terms.

"Do I think there will be devolution back? Yes, I do.

"But it involves people compromising and bringing their own people to a place where they feel comfortable, and that sometimes takes a little longer," she said.

Meanwhile, a hard border post-Brexit could impact efforts to deal with a major emergency on the island, a Westminster committee has been warned.

Bernie McCrory, chief officer at Co-operation and Working Together, an organisation that manages a range of cross-border health service link-ups, also told the Lords EU Home Affairs Sub-Committee that physical border checks could hamper daily provision of life-saving care in Ireland.

She was outlining the potential impact of a hardening of the border on the growing number of health services that treat patients on both sides of the frontier, many initiated with EU funding.

Cancer and cardiac care and ENT surgery are among those now provided on a cross-border basis in certain areas.

Ms McCrory told committee members in London that emergency services and military on both sides of the border also currently worked together on planning for major incidents.

"We facilitate a lot of inter-agency emergency planning work with the British Army, with the Irish Defence Forces, with the Irish Air Corps, with the RAF and we train together usually once a year to prepare for an emergency, be that an emergency in Ireland or some humanitarian relief abroad," she said.

"We are now in a good state of preparedness to do that and if, for example, we had a hard border and emergency vehicles could not freely cross the border, that would be a huge impediment."

And the UK faces a repeat of the 2015 cross-Channel transport chaos if the Government botches plans for post-Brexit customs arrangements, a parliamentary report has warned. A Commons committee claimed failure could see lorry drivers and holidaymakers facing enormous queues and long delays the day after the UK's departure from the EU.

MPs cited the summer disruption seen two years ago following a strike by French workers and a dramatic surge in attempts by migrants to reach Britain from Calais.

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