DUP leader blasts Irish PM over Brexit

The Irish prime minister is being “reckless” as Brexit talks enter a “critical phase”, says Arlene Foster.

Speaking after meeting Theresa May at Downing Street today, the Democratic Unionist Party leader said Leo Varadkar “should know better” than to “play around” with Northern Ireland as talks continue.

Arlene Foster has been the DUP leader since 2015. Photograph: Google

Dublin has said any deal which involves a hard border with Northern Ireland should not be taken into consideration.

Meanwhile the European Union has said Northern Ireland would have to stay in the customs union where there to be no hard border.

The prime minister has said that the outcome could not be accepted by the UK government as it would effectively create a border between Northern Ireland and the rest of Britain.

Mrs Foster said she recognised Brexit was a “big shock” for the Republic of Ireland – “and they are trying to process all of that”.

“But they certainly shouldn’t be using Northern Ireland to get the maximum deal for their citizens.”

Negotiations between Britain and the EU have yet to reach an agreement as to how the Irish border will remain open for goods to be transferred freely if the UK leaves the customs union.

The Conservatives – who are supported in government by the DUP – are today pushing for the negotiations to move onto the trade agreement, which they claim is linked with the Irish issue.

Last night Mrs May’s cabinet agreed to offer to pay more as the UK leaves Europe. But No. 10 said no formal offer will be made until the talks move on to trade.

In support of the government, Mrs Foster said it was crucial to move on to the second phase now because the trade arrangement is linked to the border situation.

After the election in June, the DUP pledged to support the prime minister’s minority government on the Brexit issue.


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