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Robin Swann 'cheap in the extreme' in attacks on DUP, says Ian Paisley in call for unionist unity

The DUP's Ian Paisley has hit out at attacks on his party by Ulster Unionist, describing criticism from party leader Robin Swann "cheap in the extreme".

Mr Paisley was speaking out after a hectic day of discussion about a proposed Brexit deal between the UK and the EU, which both sides have agreed upon and which includes a backstop to maintain alignment on a certain set of customs rules between Northern Ireland and the EU if alternative agreement is not reached.

The deal has faced stinging criticism from unionist, including the DUP and UUP, for tying Northern Ireland to the EU on an indefinite basis and opening the door to a potential future weakening of the United Kingdom.

On Wednesday Ulster Unionist leader Robin Swann called on the DUP to apologise and give an "explanation to the people who voted for them" and added his party would analyse the deal before deciding whether or not to support it.

"People were told to put their trust in the DUP. The DUP will owe an apology and an explanation to the people who voted for them on the basis of 'More votes. More seats. More influence. More for Northern Ireland'," said Mr Swann.

"Well what exactly were they doing with their influence?"

Responding to the Ulster Unionist leader, Mr Paisley said it was time for unionists to come together and that the party's supporters did not wish to see "a petty squabble".

“At a time when unionists throughout the United Kingdom are standing together, it is cheap in the extreme for Robin Swann to engineer attacks against the DUP," he said.

"Unionism in Northern Ireland should also stand united against a deal which is bad for Northern Ireland. Grassroots unionism does not want to see such a petty squabble when the real focus should be on the proposed Brexit deal.

"The DUP will work with those from all sides of the House of Commons and all parts of the UK to oppose a deal which weakens the Union. If the UUP is prepared to set their own petty agenda aside, they could play a constructive role in that process.”

The future of the Brexit deal and Theresa May's premiership remained clouded in uncertainty on Thursday evening, following a day in which two senior members of Cabinet resigned.

DUP Brexit spokesman Sammy Wilson earlier compared the draft agreement to the campaign of terror by the IRA.

"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."

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