Arlene Foster has given her backing to Boris Johnston’s Brexit plans and said she would work with him if he became prime minister.
Ahead of her appearance at the Conservative Party conference today, the DUP leader endorsed the “belief and spirit” outlined in Mr Johnston’s vision for Brexit.
Significantly, she also spoke of the DUP’s confidence and supply deal with the minority Tory Government, stating it was “party to party” and did not rely on Theresa May leading one side.
Mr Johnson has called on the PM to rip up her Chequers deal, and has set out proposals for a withdrawal deal based on a Canada-style free trade agreement.
When asked if she agreed with Mr Johnston’s plans, the Fermanagh MLA told the Daily Telegraph: ”In terms of the need for aspiration I think it is important that people start to talk.
“I do get very frustrated about some people in the Conservative Party. Look, it’s happening, so therefore let’s make it as good as we possibly can, instead of all of this talk about a people’s vote.”
She said one of her biggest disappointments was the Government’s failure to “talk about the aspirations of the nation”.
“We’ve spent so much time arguing about what’s happened, is it going to be a disaster for Ireland in inverted commas...instead of actually focusing on what we can achieve in the UK with the Brexit negotiations,” she told the Telegraph.
In what will be seen as a boost for Mr Johnson’s potential leadership ambitions, Mrs Foster indicated she would be open to working with him in Number 10.
She added: “Our confidence arrangement is with the Conservative Party. It was signed by the two chief whips. It is a party-to-party agreement.
“Whoever leads the Conservative Party we will work with as it’s in the national interest. The reason we signed the agreement was to ensure Brexit.”