Belfast Telegraph

General Election 2019

DUP 'could work with Labour... if it was no longer led by Corbyn'

Leadership: Jeremy Corbyn
Leadership: Jeremy Corbyn

By David Young

The DUP could potentially do business with the Labour Party in a hung Parliament if Jeremy Corbyn was not leader, Arlene Foster has indicated.

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Mrs Foster reiterated her view that she could see no circumstance in which her party would support a minority Labour administration with Mr Corbyn as Prime Minister.

But she acknowledged there were others in the Labour Party, with different positions to Mr Corbyn who she could consider working with.

In that situation, she said her party would judge any successor to Mr Corbyn against the DUP's election blueprint for Northern Ireland and whether the new leader's vision was good for the region.

"Jeremy Corbyn, of course, is an anathema to anyone who believes in the United Kingdom," said the DUP leader.

"I mean, he would destroy the economy. We've seen that through his manifesto launch. I mean, some of it is complete fantastical stuff. How he's going to fund that no one knows, he would wreck the economy.

"He would wreck the defence of our nation as well. And more than that it would lead to the break-up of the United Kingdom. So therefore we cannot see any circumstances, I see no circumstance, where we would support a Jeremy Corbyn-led Labour Party.

"Of course there are others in the Labour Party who take a different view to Jeremy Corbyn.

"And, if it comes to be the case that someone else is leading the Labour Party, then we will judge it against not only our 12-point plan but whether it's good for Northern Ireland to be in communication with whoever's leading the Labour Party at that time."

Mrs Foster rejected the suggestion Mr Corbyn's position on Brexit - with his opposition to the erection of economic barriers down the Irish Sea - was more unionist than either Theresa May or Boris Johnson.

"I think that's probably a tactical attack for him on the Conservative Party as opposed to anything he really genuinely believes in terms of the United Kingdom," she said.

The DUP is opposed to the EU withdrawal deal negotiated by Mr Johnson, unhappy with its customs and regulatory arrangements that would see NI treated differently to the rest of the UK and also the mechanism for Stormont to give its consent to extending that system.

Mrs Foster said: "I think what we need to do after this election is to revisit the deal which Boris did with the European Union and again revisit the customs element and of course the consent element of that deal to see what it is we can change in and around that to make it a good deal for the whole of the United Kingdom and not leaving Northern Ireland behind because, of course, the Brexit deal that is there at the moment leaves Northern Ireland behind and that's wrong - we all joined the European Union together, we should leave it together as one United Kingdom."

Asked if unionism would be in trouble if Mr Johnson gained a large majority, enabling him to ratify his deal in Parliament, she said: "Well, I don't think they will come back with a large majority, but we will still continue to use our influence there if they do."

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