UUP leader Robin Swann has branded Arlene Foster‘s comments on the Belfast Agreement “strategically shortsighted”.
In an interview with the Daily Telegraph ahead of an appearance at an event at the Conservative Party conference today, the DUP leader said wrong to think the 1998 agreement was could not be altered to accommodate a final Brexit deal.
She stated: “It has been deeply frustrating to hear people who voted remain and in Europe talk about Northern Ireland as though we can’t touch the Belfast Agreement. Things evolve, even in the EU context.
“There has been a lot of misinterpretation, holding it up as a sacrosanct piece of legislation.”
But North Antrim MLA Mr Swann blasted the remarks as “careless”, stating: “The reality is that the principle of consent is what binds us to the United Kingdom, it is the best settlement for unionists and should be sacrosanct.
“We should be looking to build on this principle and ultimately remove the changes made at St Andrews to finally do away with the sectarian politics which continues to plague us to this day.”
Mr Swann added that he was “not surprised” to see the DUP are now trying to “sidle up beside” Mr Johnston, adding: “It’s obvious that they are trying to hedge their bets. They can’t get away from the fact that they are the people propping up the Government leading the negotiations on Brexit.
“If the final deal is a bad deal for Northern Ireland, people will rightly ask what exactly were they doing?”
While Sinn Fein have also hit out at Mrs Foster’s remarks and accused her of showing a “reckless disregard” for the peace process, Mr Swann added: “It is abject hypocrisy for Mary Lou McDonald and Sinn Fein to criticise the comments. They were complicit in destroying the partnership model of government established by the Belfast Agreement.”