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DUP compares Brexit threat to Northern Ireland to IRA campaign

Prime Minister aware of our position, says Foster

DUP Brexit spokesman Sammy Wilson made clear his anger on the draft agreement, saying his party could not support it.

The text was published on Wednesday evening after Theresa May secured Cabinet backing for the plan.

It will see Northern Ireland aligned with EU rules and remain part of the single market with checks on some goods coming in from the UK to Northern Ireland, if the Brexit backstop is implemented.

During the transition period which comes into force after March, the entire UK will remain within a customs union in the UK until 2020, although that could be extend in order to get a trade deal.

DUP leader Arlene Foster said she had a "frank" meeting with the Prime Minister lasting almost an hour.

"She is fully aware of our position," she tweeted.

Theresa May still has to convince Parliament of the merits of her deal with the EU, as well as the Lords and the EU27 still have to sign off on the text.

DUP Brexit spokesman Sammy Wilson made clear his party could not support the government with with it has a confidence and supply agreement.

He hit out at the Prime Minister saying what was on offer was a deal she had said she could never agree to saying people would be "appalled" by her words.

He claimed the deal would constitutional divide Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK.

"We fought against a terrorist campaign to stay within the UK," he told the BBC.

"We are not going to let the EU break Northern Ireland just like we didn't let the IRA."

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said an agreement "reached a satisfactory outcome on all key Irish priorities" and could present economic benefits to Northern Ireland.

"We both want to build ever deeper bilateral relations and to help secure the restoration of powersharing institutions in Northern Ireland," he said.

"I want to repeat my message of earlier today to unionists - our approach is not intended in any way as a threat to you, or to your identity.

"Our goal is simply to protect the peace and the Good Friday Agreement from any unintended or undesirable consequence.

"The draft withdrawal agreement states in black and white that Ireland and the EU fully respect the constitutional status of Northern Ireland as part of the United Kingdom, and that this can only change if the majority of people in Northern Ireland want it."

Mr Varadkar acknowledged that he had not spoken to DUP leader Arlene Foster on Wednesday, but said he was aware of her earlier statements in Westminster in which she labelled the Irish government "aggressive".

"There are sensitivities there and I certainly heard what Arlene had to say today," he said.

"The DUP is the DUP, it's a unionist party, it's not going to be told what to do by the Irish government, but the door is always open and the phone is always on.

"I am always willing to speak to her or anyone in the DUP to offer any clarifications or any assurances that they may wish to have."

Mr Varadkar is to meet with Northern Ireland parties Sinn Fein, the SDLP, Alliance and the Northern Ireland Green Party on Thursday.

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