Belfast Telegraph

Poisonous backstop would remain: Nigel Dodds rejects possible DUP support for Norway plus deal

Nigel Dodds
Nigel Dodds

The DUP's Nigel Dodds has poured cold water on the possibility of his party giving its backing to a Norway plus-style deal for the UK.

Speaking on Sunday in an interview with Sky News, the party's leader in Westminster doubled down on the DUP's opposition to the withdrawal deal negotiated between the UK and the EU currently on the table.

The so-called Norway plus model has been floated in recent days as a possible alternative to the proposed deal, and would see the UK remain part of the European Economic Area and join a customs union with the EU, although this model would require the UK to accept free movement of people.

During an interview with BBC Radio 4 last month, DUP leader Arlene Foster said her party's one red line was making sure Northern Ireland was not differentiated from the rest of the UK - something the Norway plus model would facilitate by keeping all of the United Kingdom within the customs union during the transition period.

The deal is set to go before the House of Commons on Tuesday, with speculation Theresa May could struggle to secure the votes to get it passed.

"As I understand it even going down that path still requires this withdrawal agreement with this poisonous backstop which everybody now, even the Prime Minister, doesn’t like," said Mr Dodds.

"Makes you wonder why they put it in in the first place. It suffers from a number of very fundamental problems."

Mr Dodds called on the Prime Minister to return to Brussels and negotiate a new deal, echoing comments he made in an article for the Belfast Telegraph earlier this week.

"This withdrawal treaty should never have been agreed in the terms that it has because it gives all of the leverage to Brussels."

Pushed on the divergence of Northern Ireland from the United Kingdom in a number of other areas, including same-sex marriage and abortion, Mr Dodds reiterated his party's view certain issues fall under the control of the devolved assembly.

"But on issues like customs and single internal markets, foreign policy, taxation and those issues," he said.

"Those are United Kingdom matters. And if you start to break up the United Kingdom on those matters then you are creating internal barriers within the United Kingdom."

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