Published: Sat, November 10, 2018
People | By Leon Thompson

N. Irish kingmakers tell May: Don't betray UK

N. Irish kingmakers tell May: Don't betray UK

"I must caution that there is high level of uncertainty when you are making any projections in relation to Brexit", he said.

Appearing on the Matthew Wright show, Mick Fealty, the editor of Northern Ireland-based political blog, Slugger O'Toole, said Irish businesses were anxious.

"The PM's letter raises alarm bells for those who value the integrity of our precious union & for those who want a proper Brexit for the whole UK", DUP leader Arlene Foster tweeted.

The scope of any alignment with Brussels' rules would be limited to what is "strictly necessary" to avoid a hard border.

She said the problem with Mrs May's letter is that she has confirmed there will be a Northern Ireland specific backstop and the Chequers plan for the rest of the UK.

According to The Times, the DUP have taken Mrs May's words to mean a Northern Ireland-only backstop arrangement will still be included in the legal text of the UK's divorce deal with the European Union, despite her assurance she will not allow it to "come into force".

A spokesman added that "the government will not agree anything that brings about a hard border on the island of Ireland".

A leaked letter from Ms May to Ms Foster and her deputy Nigel Dodds set out the British prime minister's approach.

In a tweet, Foster seized on May's insistence that she couldn't accept a deal that could see the break up of the United Kingdom customs territory.

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This so-called "backstop to the backstop" would see Northern Ireland become wedded to the EU single market and customs union should London and Brussels fail to strike a permanent trade deal.

Theresa May's Conservative Party relies on the support of the DUP's 10 MPs for her Commons majority, votes which may become crucial as she attempts to get a deal through Parliament.

With less than five months to go until Britain is due to leave the bloc on March 29, both sides remain at odds over how to avoid a hard border in Ireland and are yet to agree a backup plan for the Irish border should a no-deal Brexit occur.

Toaiseach Leo Varadkar told a meeting of British and Irish officials on the Isle of Man that while negotiations were still at a "sensitive point", he was hopeful an agreement could be struck in the coming weeks.

"People will need to ask themselves what is it that is going to be in the best interests of those who sent them to Westminster to represent them, to ensure that we maintain living standards and investment and prosperity and employment in our country".

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon was among the leaders at the Isle of Man summit and urged Tory leaders to consider keeping the whole of the United Kingdom in the single market, warning that Brexit has highlighted "real weaknesses" in the UK's devolution settlement.

"Similarly, I don't think the relationship between Scotland and Ireland has ever been stronger than it is at the moment".

"Brexit is going to go on for a very long period of time".

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