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We share DUP Irish Sea border concern: Cabinet Secretary says backstop proposal unacceptable

Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright (Victoria Jones/PA
Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright (Victoria Jones/PA

A member of Theresa May's Cabinet has thrown his weight behind the DUP in its opposition to the possibility of a border in the Irish sea.

Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright has said any deal incorporating such a measure would not be accepted.

He was speaking after following remarks from East Antrim DUP MP Sammy Wilson who warned his party will not support any deal which could see the backstop insurance policy - which would keep NI aligned with the EU on customs arrangements - used to facilitate the UK's exit from the European Union.

Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "Were there to be a border down the Irish Sea, as I've said and the Prime Minister has said, we wouldn't accept a deal incorporating that.

"What's important is we get a deal that satisfies our requirements - and by our requirements I mean the whole of the United Kingdom, including Northern Ireland.

"We don't have that proposed deal yet. When we do we'll be able to discuss it.

"There is no doubt we have understood the concern the DUP and others have expressed about a hard border down the Irish Sea, we share it, and we will not accept a deal that involves that component."

Mr Wright's remarks came after his interview was paused as DUP Brexit spokesman Sammy Wilson was on the phone.

The fresh row over the backstop was triggered by a letter from Prime Minister Theresa May to DUP leader Arlene Foster and leaked to The Times, in which the DUP say the Prime Minister hints at a Northern Ireland-specific backstop potentially being included in a legally-binding deal.

Speaking on Friday, East Antrim MP Mr Wilson said: "There is a large number of issues which have been raised in this letter which raise alarm."

In the letter the Prime Minister says the EU wants a provision in which Northern Ireland remains in the customs union if no other post-Brexit arrangement is reached.

In her response, Mrs May states she would not accept a situation where the backstop "could come in to force" - phrasing the DUP has taken exception to.

Speaking to Radio Ulster's Good Morning Ulster programme, Sammy Wilson said "the insurance policy argument" was a "false one" and warned his party would vote down the deal proposed in the letter if it was put before the House of Commons.

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