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Dial down rhetoric and language - focus on solutions, says DUP's Dodds as Brexit deal returns to parliament

Ahead of another crucial week in politics and a the UK edges closer to leaving the EU in March, the DUP's Westminster leader Nigel Dodds has urged for a focus on finding solutions and for a toning down of the language and rhetoric used.

Last week the European Council President Donald Tusk said there was a "special place in hell" for those who advocated Brexit "without even a sketch of a plan".

Reacting the DUP's Sammy Wilson accused Mr Tusk of contempt for those who voted Leave, branding him a a “devilish, trident wielding, euro maniac”. Arlene Foster called for "cool heads".

Over the weekend there was anger after both Tony Blair and John Major warned leaving the EU without a deal risked damaging the peace process.

Nigel Dodds said: "Some of the language and rhetoric employed last week was not conducive to making progress and securing the agreement we all want to see. Whether it is the European Council or former UK Prime Ministers, it’s time to dial down the rhetoric and focus on solutions rather than scaremongering."

This week parliament will again debate leaving the EU. An amendment is set to be tabled requiring the Commons to have another "meaningful vote" on the deal on the table by February 26. There is concern among parliamentarians the Prime Minister may be "running down the clock" in order to force her deal through.

North Belfast MP Dodds said the focus had to be on tackling the backstop, saying it was the "central problem".

"The Prime Minister has committed to securing legally binding changes to the withdrawal agreement. Those changes will be required for Parliament to support any deal. The EU cannot continue to hark back to a proposed deal which was comprehensively rejected by the House of Commons. There is no agreement without Parliament’s support."

He added: "Over the next number of weeks the options will become increasingly clear, particularly for the European Union. If the political will is there then an agreement can be achieved. The alternative is to cling to an unacceptable backstop which actually increases the chances of an outcome it was supposedly designed to prevent. It can make no sense for anyone to continue pursuing such a perverse policy.”

Meanwhile the EU published a 60-page presentation on the withdrawal agreement breaking down the deal with the UK.

The DUP said it highlighted the "threat the proposed backstop poses to our economy and to the constitutional integrity of the United Kingdom".

MEP Diane Dodds said it showed how EU leaders had "buried their heads in the sand".

She added:"It is time to change direction before it is too late. It is time to work for a better deal. A deliverable deal which builds on the aspects of the draft treaty that we can all agree are positive whilst addressing genuine concerns over the Irish border in a pragmatic way. That should be our collective vision in the days ahead.”

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