Foster: Border in Irish Sea will impede NI’s access to trade deals

Arlene Foster
Arlene Foster

Any border in the Irish Sea post-Brexit will impede access for Northern Ireland to new UK trade deals, Arlene Foster has said.

The DUP leader made the remarks following a meeting with EU Parliament’s Brexit Coordinator Guy Verhofstadt yesterday.

The Fermanagh MLA, along with DUP MEP Diane Dodds, took part in a second day of talks with key stakeholders in Brussels.

Mrs Foster said the delegation had continued to encourage representatives from the EU’s 27 states to “recognise the damage to Northern Ireland by any exit deal which annexes Northern Ireland away from the United Kingdom”.

She added: “Firstly, it is clear from our meetings that any form of border in Irish Sea will impede access for Northern Ireland to new UK trade deals. That removes one of the key benefits of leaving the EU.

“Secondly, best of both worlds is not on offer. The EU wants a one-way turnstile from GB and one way rules from Brussels.

“Thirdly, if we have a regulatory border, the problem is not on day one after leaving the problems arise in the years after we leave.

“Northern Ireland will have to follow EU rules, with no power to influence them and have limited access to the UK single market.”

Mrs Foster said her party want to see an “agreed outcome” between the EU and the UK Government.

“We want to get a deal that works for everyone, respecting the outcome of the 2016 referendum,” she added.

“We will not burden future generations with a deal which diminishes Northern Ireland’s position in the United Kingdom.”

After a meeting with the EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier in Brussels on Monday, Mrs Foster insisted any deal agreed as the UK prepares to leave the EU must meet her party’s red line.