Belfast Telegraph

Foster backs May and slams EU as 'disrespectful, intransigent and disgraceful' over Brexit

By Mark Edwards

Leader of the DUP Arlene Foster has slammed the behaviour of those negotiating on behalf of the European Union on Brexit as "disrespectful, intransigent and disgraceful".

Mrs Foster was responding to a statement from Prime Minister Theresa May after the rejection of her Chequers plan by EU leaders in Salzburg.

Mrs May said the EU "did not respect" that Northern Ireland would remain part of the UK after Brexit.

She reiterated there would never be a border in the Irish Sea.

Mrs Foster said: “The Prime Minister is right to stand firm in the face of disrespectful, intransigent and disgraceful behaviour by the European Union.  The United Kingdom will not be treated in such a manner.

"I welcome today’s clear statement by the Prime Minister and in particular that Her Majesty’s Government will not countenance any new regulatory or customs barriers between Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom. "

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Theresa May, pictured in Northern Ireland with DUP leader Arlene Foster (Clodagh Kilcoyne/PA)

Mrs Foster said her party, which currently props up Mrs May's Conservative government, would veto any attempt to "undermine the economic or constitutional integrity of the United Kingdom".

She added: "Our red line from day one of these negotiations has been that there can be no border between Northern Ireland and Great Britain. 

"We continue our intensive work with the Government to ensure that we leave the EU in a manner which protects the constitutional and economic integrity of United Kingdom and enables us to take back control of our laws, borders and money.

"The focus by the European Union on the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland is misplaced. 

"A currency, VAT and excise border already exists and is easily managed. The European Union needs to stop misusing the Northern Ireland peace process as some form of leverage.”

Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald said the Prime Minister's speech offered "nothing but tired rhetoric"

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Mary Lou McDonald

"Theresa May made a statement today which was billed as a major one in respect of Brexit negotiations," she said.

"It was, regrettably, no more than an exercise in tired rhetoric.

“Rather than accepting that her so-called ‘Chequers Plan’ fails to resolve fundamental issues, Theresa May has engaged in deflection. 

“Her ‘Chequers Plan’ falls short of what was contained in the December ‘backstop’ agreement, which her government already accepted. She needs to accept that reality.

“Her focus has unfortunately remained on infighting within in her own party and her pact with the DUP, instead of coming to an acceptable negotiating position."

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