Border “deal” in tatters as DUP threatens to end May support

Posted By: December 01, 2017


Distributed by Irish National Caucus

Border “deal” in tatters as DUP threatens to end May support

Brendan Hughes. Irish News. Belfast. Friday, December 1, 2017

A proposed ‘deal’ to avoid a hard border lay in tatters last night after the DUP threatened to withdraw support for Theresa May’s minority government.

East Antrim MP Sammy Wilson said any attempt to “placate Dublin and the EU” by allowing Northern Ireland to have different customs rules from Britain would jeopardize the agreement to prop up the Tories.

Sinn Féin vice-president Mary Lou McDonald, above, also claimed the plan “misses the point” and insisted special status within the EU was the only solution.

The row came as MPs warned that it appeared impossible to reconcile leaving the single market and

customs union with the British government’s intention to maintain a “frictionless border.”

The Exiting the EU Committee also said proposals to use technology to create a “light touch” border was “untested and to some extent speculative”, although four Conservative members, as well as Mr. Wilson, rejected the report.

The Irish government has been demanding assurances that there will be no return to a hard border before Brexit negotiations can progress to discuss trade after a European Council summit this month.

A report in The Times yesterday said British negotiators had proposed devolving more powers to Stormont to enable “customs convergence” with the Republic in areas such as agriculture and energy.

The government refused to comment on the report but DUP leader Arlene Foster said ministers had a “clear understanding that the DUP will not countenance any arrangement that could lead to a new border being created in the Irish Sea”.

Former leader Peter Robinson also joined attacks on the Irish government, saying “the south needs to wind its neck in”.

He said Dublin politicians had taken to “lecturing the UK,” doing “significant harm to north/south relations”.

“Sensible solutions can be found and positive outcomes are more likely to be reached if a spirit of friendship and mutual understanding exists,” he said.

Ms. McDonald, meanwhile, said talk about regulatory divergence and convergence “misses the point”.

“The solution is for the north to be granted designated special status within the European Union as part of any final agreement. That would allow the north to remain part of the single market and the customs union,” she said.