The deadlock in the Brexit negotiations over the Irish border issue is turning into a battle for the Union itself, the DUP’s deputy leader has said.
Speaking on the BBC’s Good Morning Ulster radio programme this morning, Nigel Dodds MP reiterated his party’s position that the EU’s insistence on a Northern Ireland-only backstop to prevent a return to a hard border is unacceptable. And he stressed that no British government or Prime Minister could ever accept a backstop that would break up the United Kingdom.
With talks continuing this week in a bid to find a way forward on the complex border issue, Mr Dodds accused EU negotiators of “arrogance” and said he hopes the now very real prospect of a no-deal Brexit will help them realise the British government is serious about its stand.
“I do hope that the prospect of a no-deal will actually force negotiators to realise on the EU side that the British government is serious, that we’re serious, that Ruth Davidson (leader of the Scottish Conservatives) is serious, that the Conservative Party is serious, that many in the Labour Party are serious when they say that the United Kingdom cannot be broken up. This is now clearly turning into a battle for the Union itself,” he told the programme.
Calling for “a policy which delivers Brexit and which safeguards the Union”, Mr Dodds commented: “We want to see a sensible Brexit which delivers on the Brexit promises, because the whole of the United Kingdom voted that way. We want to see a good Brexit for Northern Ireland, a good deal, but it can’t be at the expense of creating new borders within the United Kingdom.”
Meanwhile, speaking on the programme ahead of Sinn Fein’s meeting with the Prime Minister in Downing Street today, Máirtín Ó Muilleoir MLA branded Brexit “a democratic disgrace” and claimed the ongoing “calamity” has increased interest in a united Ireland.
“There is no doubt that in their determination to try and build more division on this island and to damage the Good Friday Agreement, Brexiteers have increased interest and enthusiasm for a united Ireland, not just among nationalists but now across the board in the north of Ireland,” he said.