The DUP has reacted to today’s draft deal between the British government and the EU by stressing that it does not contain any definitive blueprints for the post-Brexit border.
Following the release of the government’s dense, 129-page draft deal document, much of the focus was on the clause about a “backstop” arrangement to keep Northern Ireland at least partly under EU rules in the event no deal is reached over Brexit.
Whilst the text does call for such a measure, the DUP issued a statement which said, “there has been no agreement around how arrangements of any potential border backstop” would work.
The party said the government and EU have already committed to having both “no hard border” on the island of Ireland, or any “borders or barriers to trade within the UK”.
The party statement added: “We will continue to work with the government on these matters and will be guided by the principle that there can be no internal border within the UK as we leave the EU.”
Sinn Fein reacted with a statement from its Northern Ireland MEP Martina Anderson which said “there is now confirmation that the British government is accepting the agreements made, including the backstop option which would see the north remaining in the customs union and significant elements of the single market”.
She also demanded that the taoiseach intervene to “ensure that the rights of people in the north are protected”.
When it comes to the idea of a backstop scenario which could see Northern Ireland placed under different rules than the UK mainland, SDLP leader Colum Eastwood said: “I am glad that the British prime minister has sensibly rowed back from the language that no prime minister could sign up to this proposal.
“In the continued absence of that economic common sense from the British government, the backstop agreement will inevitably come into effect.”
Simon Coveney, the Republic of Ireland’s foreign minister, said after meeting Michel Barnier that “negotiations are moving forward – progress on Irish issues remains a key priority for both negotiating teams and solidarity with our EU partners remains strong”.