Internal border between NI and GB not acceptable: DUP

Arlene Foster told Bloomberg she wanted as seamless a border as possible after Brexit
Arlene Foster told Bloomberg she wanted as seamless a border as possible after Brexit

Any border between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK in the wake of Brexit is a red line for the DUP, Arlene Foster has said.

The DUP leader has said it is vital that there will be no internal borders between the Province and Great Britain after the UK leaves the European Union.

In an interview with business news organisation Bloomberg during the Conservative party conference, Mrs Foster said: “That would be a red line for us, we cannot have that and to be fair to the Prime Minister she has been clear that is not going to happen.

“I see some talk coming out of talk around that but it is just not acceptable to those of us who live in Northern Ireland.”

Mrs Foster spoke of the importance of trade between Northern Ireland and GB, stating that about 72% of goods out of Belfast Port goes to the rest of the UK.

The UK is to leave the EU in March 2019 and Prime Minister Theresa May has raised the possibility of a two-year transition period.

Welcoming the Prime Minister’s “clarity” on the issue, Mrs Foster described the mooted two-year period as “a sensible length of time”.

The DUP leader also said it was “hugely important” that a solution was found to protect the thousands of under-threat jobs at Bombardier in Belfast.

She added: “Bombardier is a critical part of economic infrastructure in Northern Ireland and it is so important that we sustain those jobs in Belfast.

“We need to try and find a negotiated position out of this. We have been working very closely with the Prime Minister and her team and also through them the Canadian government and Bombardier themselves.”

Meanwhile, the party’s deputy leader Nigel Dodds told an event at the Conservative party conference on Tuesday evening that the DUP deal with the Conservatives was not temporary and would last the full parliament term.

The prime minister made a confidence and supply arrangement with the DUP after the Tories lost their majority in the general election in June.

In return for the DUP’s 10 MPs backing the minority Conservative government in the Commons, Northern Ireland will receive an extra £1bn over two years.

Mr Dodds acknowledged that from time to time his party would have differences with the Conservatives in parliament.

However, he insisted that the Tory-DUP deal is strong and will last for the duration of this parliament.