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Brexit: DUP's Nigel Dodds says EU backstop must be 'time-limited' and include entire UK

DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds has said any EU backstop has to be time limited and apply to the entirety of the UK.

It comes amid reports the UK government is to propose backing down on its opposition to checks on goods moving between Britain and Northern Ireland.

Mr Dodds said any agreement had to be "crystal clear" and his party would not accept a fudge on any Brexit withdrawal agreement..

The North Belfast MP was speaking at a Conservative party conference fringe event on Tuesday.

He said: “The danger of this Irish backstop has the potential to not only separate Northern Ireland from the rest of the United Kingdom and any future diversion there may be from it, but it also has the potential to shackle the United Kingdom for generations to come in its relationship with Europe.

“The DUP will not be signing up to any backstop unless we ensure that every line of it complies with our requirements.”

He also took a pot shot at the Chancellor, revealing he had told the Government that Mr Hammond’s next Budget needed to “reflect optimism”, adding: “We have had enough doom and gloom.”

DUP leader Arlene Foster, also speaking at the event, said her party was not "bluffing" on the issue and they would not allow the UK to be broken up by Brussels.

The comments come as it was reported Theresa May was sitting on "secret" plans for new working on the so-called backstop.

The backstop is a contingency fall back should the EU and the UK not agree a deal. The EU has insisted this be agreed before talks can progress.

Bloomberg reported on Monday Mrs May is set to make a significant new Brexit offer that would kick-start negotiations in the coming weeks.

The offer applies to the 'backstop', which is the legal guarantee that there will no hard border on the island of Ireland.

The report said: "Under the plan, which May is likely to put forward later this month, the UK would back down on its opposition to new checks on goods moving between the British mainland and Northern Ireland.

"In exchange, May's team would need the EU to compromise and allow the whole of the UK including Northern Ireland to stay in the bloc's customs regime."

However, sources in Dublin said they understood this to mean that Mrs May was moving towards delivering a new legal definition of the backstop.

The version produced by the EU last February was ruled unworkable by the UK Government.

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