Belfast Telegraph

Arlene Foster: Fatal flaws remain... we need a better agreement

DUP leader Arlene Foster at the garden party (Liam McBurney/PA)
DUP leader Arlene Foster at the garden party (Liam McBurney/PA)

By Arlene Foster

The Prime Minister tried to repackage the Withdrawal Agreement by tying a bow on the top and wrapping it in shiny paper but no one was fooled.

Nothing has changed. The fatal flaws still remain. The backstop is still there meaning Northern Ireland could be cut off from its main market in Great Britain by a new regulatory border. The Prime Minister's so-called safeguards for Northern Ireland are based in domestic legislation and would always be superseded by the Withdrawal Agreement and could be dispensed with by a future government.

Unless there are treaty level changes, Brussels would always have the whip hand. Our core industries would have to take their regulations from Brussels and Dublin rather than Belfast or London.

Rather than trying to mitigate the bad parts of a bad deal, what we really need is a better deal which protects the Union and implements the will of the majority who voted in June 2016. Those who seek to deny and frustrate the referendum result are actually endangering democracy. The electorate voted in unprecedented numbers and their will should be respected. To do otherwise is fundamentally undemocratic.

The House of Commons mandated the Prime Minister to seek alternative arrangements to the backstop when a majority backed the Brady amendment. The Prime Minister failed to capitalise on that leverage in Brussels.

It is only when the Brussels elite realise that the United Kingdom is not going to be pushed around and is not going to allow anyone to build new borders within the United Kingdom that we will reach a place where a better deal can be done. We want to see a sensible deal that works for every part of the United Kingdom and also the European Union. But whilst some in Brussels believe the negotiations are over, they must realise that there is only a deal when both sides agree.

There is a long way to go but the DUP will stick the course and will stand up for Northern Ireland. We will ensure that the referendum is respected. We will be the voice for Northern Ireland in Parliament and in Brussels.

That is why we need a strong DUP vote tomorrow to send a message to Brussels that we reject the backstop.

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