Dodds welcomes Brexit backstop proposal as a ‘step forward’

DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds
DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds

Nigel Dodds has welcomed the government’s ‘backstop’ Brexit proposal, which treats Northern Ireland no differently from the rest of the UK, as “a step forward”.

The DUP’s group leader at Westminster was commenting after ministers reached agreement on plans designed to minimise the risk of a ‘hard border’ with the Republic of Ireland,

There have been numerous calls for Northern Ireland to remain in the EU customs union – even if the rest of the UK leaves as expected – to prevent the need for border checks.

However, many unionists are vehemently opposed to any proposal which would interfere in trade across the Irish Sea.

Mr Dodds said: “As we exit the EU we must ensure there is no new border in the Irish Sea between Northern Ireland and our greatest market in Great Britain.

“We will always act to protect the constitutional and economic integrity of the United Kingdom. The backstop in the technical report issued today applies to the entire United Kingdom. That is positive and a step forward.”

The North Belfast MP said the clarification was a demonstration of the prime minister’s commitment to the Union, and added: “We must also remember that the backstop will only be used as a last resort. The focus must now be on getting a new trade deal. This is in the best interests of the UK, European Union and Republic of Ireland.

“The people of the UK voted to take back control of our borders, laws and money. The DUP is committed to delivering on the verdict of the 2016 referendum and ensuring that as we exit the EU, we get the best deal for Northern Ireland and the entire United Kingdom.”