Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland unionism stands united in opposition to Brexit withdrawal agreement says DUP's Dodds

Nigel Dodds, speaking in the House of Commons.
Nigel Dodds, speaking in the House of Commons.
Gareth Cross

By Gareth Cross

DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds has said that Northern Ireland unionism stands united in opposition to Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit withdrawal agreement.

Mr Dodds said that further detailed analysis of the Withdrawal Agreement reinforces why Unionists from all parts of the UK and across Northern Ireland are uniting in rejecting it.

The DUP are unhappy that the deal will see Northern Ireland aligned with EU rules and remain part of the single market with checks on some goods coming in from the UK to Northern Ireland, if the Brexit backstop is implemented.

The North Belfast MP said that the plan would create a trade border in the Irish Sea, the DUP's red line in Brexit negotiations.

Mr Dodds said that "even Jeremy Corbyn gets it", the opposition to the deal, and said that nationalists and republicans in Northern Ireland were desperate for the Labour leader to stop saying it.

He pointed to comments from former Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab who sensationally quit Theresa May's cabinet on Thursday in opposition to the deal.

Mr Raab said that the deal takes a “predatory” approach to Northern Ireland that threatened the union.

He claimed that the cabinet was told Northern Ireland will be treated as a third country for regulatory purposes, and Mr Dodds said that this "absolutely threatens the Union".

"These are exactly the reasons why Northern Ireland unionism stands united in opposition to this draft Withdrawal Agreement," Mr Dodds said

"This deal would place a trade border in the Irish Sea, subject us to EU rules without any power to influence or change them and binds us to the EU with no unilateral ability to leave. Indeed, Northern Ireland is part of the EU Customs Union not the UK’s."

The North Belfast MP said that there was still time to get a good deal for the UK.

"I understand why some people fear a “no deal” scenario.  But the choice is between this very bad deal and the right deal.

"With MPs on all sides of the House pointing to the dangers for the Union of the Withdrawal Agreement, it is clear that it is time to work for a better deal which does not undermine the integrity of the United Kingdom”

UUP leader Robin Swann has also been critical of the proposed withdrawal agreement.

He said his party "cannot and will not" support the draft deal.

Mr Swann claimed the proposed plan will see Northern Ireland "potentially drift farther away" from the United Kingdom.

"In the unlikely event that the agreement makes its way through Parliament, its impact will be felt for decades to come," he said.

The Confederation of British Industry NI, Federation of Small Businesses NI, Institute of Directors NI and NI Chamber of Commerce said the deal "provides some much needed clarity that local businesses have been calling for".

The Ulster Farmers' Union (UFU) claimed a no-deal Brexit would be "absolutely disastrous" for the local farming and agri-food sector.

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