Belfast Telegraph

Special status 'economic catastrophe' and 'nonsense' for Northern Ireland to be governed by Brussels, says DUP's Dodds

By Mark Edwards

DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds has said it would be "nonsense" for Northern Ireland to be governed from Brussels with no political representation after Brexit saying special status would be an "economic catastrophe".

Mr Dodds, speaking on BBC Radio 4 on Friday morning, said it was important there are no economic barriers put up between one part of the UK and the other.

He said: "At the end of the day, is Northern Ireland going to be governed, and its economy governed, by rules set in London and Belfast? Or is it going to be governed and its economy ruled by rules set in Brussels with no representation? This would be nonsense."

The North Belfast MP also said the backstop, agreed by the UK government in December 2017 and would see Northern Ireland remain in the customs union, would need to be "time limited".

"Part of the problem with the backstop arrangement and having to be in the legally binding withdrawal agreement is that it puts the cart before the horse," he said.

"We are being asked to accept arrangements when we don't know the final outcome of the overall trading relationship. This was always the major defect.

"Any arrangement, as far as the backstop is concerned, has to be temporary as Dominic Rabb [Brexit Secretary] has already said, it needs to be time-limited.

"It needs to be clearly linked to whatever the future relationship is. Whatever about the particular arrangements UK wide, what it consists of and all the rest of it, the real danger is this is something that could be hanging over the UK and Northern Ireland for many many years, a legally binding international agreement before we actually know what is in the future trading relationship.

"This was always the major problem with the agreement by the government back in December to agree a backstop."

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Michelle O’Neill (David Young/PA)

Sinn Fein deputy leader Michelle O'Neill told the BBC Brexit posed a threat to Northern ireland.

Speaking from Brussels before meeting with EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier, Ms O'Neill said people in Northern Ireland "did not ask for Brexit."

"Our message is very clear to Michel Barnier today and that is what we want to stay in the customs union, the single market, that we can't stand being outside those things," she said.

"That the backstop is the bottom line. That we need to protect the Good Friday Agreement in all of its parts. We want to protect our special relationship that we have, east-west and north-south."

On Thursday Alliance leader Naomi Long said unionists had nothing to fear from special status.

While PUP Belfast councillor, John Kyle said the DUP's "insistence on a hard Brexit poses the greatest existential threat to NI since 1921".

"A special customs arrangement with EU and UK would offer enormous economic opportunities and secure the Union for generations," he said.

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