Belfast Telegraph

Varadkar using border issue as bargaining chip, says DUP's Donaldson

Sir Jeffrey Donaldson used his trip to Dublin to launch an attack on the Irish government
Sir Jeffrey Donaldson used his trip to Dublin to launch an attack on the Irish government

By Kevin Doyle

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar is driving the UK towards a no-deal Brexit by subcontracting Northern Ireland policy to the EU, the DUP's chief whip has claimed.

In a stinging attack on the Irish government, Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said Mr Varadkar and Tanaiste Simon Coveney knew the border was "sensitive" but rather than look for consensus they sought to turn it into "a bargaining chip which could be used by Brussels".

Mr Donaldson told the Institute of International and European Affairs in Dublin that the DUP does not want a hard border but it will not accept the backstop.

"The Irish government sought a solution to Brexit which they must know does not have the support of unionists - the so-called backstop.

"They abandoned the politics of consensus and instead now find themselves claiming to be a guarantor of the Belfast Agreement, while being at loggerheads with Westminster and unionism in Northern Ireland," he said.

Mr Donaldson added that "megaphone diplomacy" had taken over.

Sinn Fein MP Chris Hazzard said the DUP cannot hide its support for a hard Brexit by trying to blame others.

The South Down MP said: "It is ridiculous for the DUP to claim that the Irish government is somehow responsible for driving Britain towards a no-deal Brexit.

"In reality it is the DUP propping up the British Tories and aligning themselves with the hardliners in the Tories who are competing with each other to deliver the hardest Brexit that is driving us towards a disastrous no-deal crash out.

"They are doing this in total contradiction of the democratically expressed views of the people of the north.

"The DUP cannot hide their support for a hard Brexit by trying to deflect the blame onto others."

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