Belfast Telegraph

Report DUP moves on Brexit red lines 'nonsense,' says leader Arlene Foster

Boris Johnston MP is greeted at the DUP party conference by Leader Arlene Foster and Deputy leader Nigel Dodds MP pictured at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Belfast.
Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye October 2018.
Boris Johnston MP is greeted at the DUP party conference by Leader Arlene Foster and Deputy leader Nigel Dodds MP pictured at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Belfast. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye October 2018.
Jonathan Bell

By Jonathan Bell

DUP leader Arlene Foster has dismissed as "nonsense" a report her party moved on its Brexit red lines in order to help the prime minister get his much sought-after deal with the EU, it has been claimed.

The Times reports the party has agreed to accepting some EU rules for Northern Ireland after the UK's departures from the UK.

The party has always said Northern Ireland had to leave the EU on the same terms as the rest of the UK.

The paper also claims the DUP has agreed to drop objections to regulatory checks in the Irish Sea, equating to a sea border the party has railed against.

Anonymous sources told the paper regulatory divergence could be accepted if done with the consent of the Stormont institutions - the so-called Stormont lock.

In return, Brussels would drop its insistence NI remains in the customs union and would agree to fast track alternative arrangements on finding a different solution.

Taking to Twitter Mrs Foster said: "The UK must leave as one nation.

"We are keen to see a sensible deal but not one that divides the internal market of the UK. We will not support any arrangements that create a barrier to East West trade.

"Anonymous sources lead to nonsense stories."

Earlier on the BBC's The View programme DUP MLA Christopher Stalford said he "did not recognise it as factual" and it was not the position of the party.

On Question Time, Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said they did no want trade barriers between NI and the rest of the UK.

He said he had be given assurance from the PM it would not happen and another border in the Irish Sea would be "economically devastating".

Last October, Arlene Foster made clear she would not support any increase in regulatory checks across the Irish Sea as a means to break the deadlock over the Irish border.

Stressing the party’s unwillingness to give ground on the issue, the DUP leader said: “The red line is blood red, it is very red.”

After meeting the then Prime Minister Theresa May she said: "No border in the Irish Sea will ever be acceptable to unionists throughout the UK . . . regulatory or otherwise."

And earlier this week the party said to "expect speculation" over a claim it was willing to accept an Irish Sea border. Mrs Foster said they were "exploring options" with the PM.

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