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DUP leader Arlene Foster and DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds during the party's annual conference at the La Mon hotel in Belfast last month. Michael Cooper/PA
come on arlene

EU negotiating team 'reaffirms' its commitment to original Brexit border deal

Foster has claimed she was only told about the potential deal yesterday morning.

Updated: 9.45pm

A GOVERNMENT SPOKESPERSON has this evening said the EU negotiating team reaffirmed its commitment to the text that was agreed to yesterday.

They said the Government’s position remained firm that the deal is as was agreed to yesterday by all parties.

However, it is understood that should the UK seek for reassurances or an appendix be added on the UK union being sacrosanct then it would not be unreasonable for such guarantees to be added.

However, this should in no way be taken as a watering down of the Irish Government’s position who maintain that the meaning of text and wording of the text stands.

The Irish government has not been approached to change the text in any form. It has agreed to give London the “time and space” it needs.

It’s believed the briefing that the Irish government told the UK to not show the text to the DUP is to be raised in the talks by the EU negotiating team. The Irish government have issued a categorical denial to assertions by Foster that this is the case.
The Government earlier denied claims made by Arlene Foster that it ordered the British to withhold details from the DUP about the border plan.

A Government spokesman this evening said it had no involvement whatsoever in the British side of negotiations.

He said: “The Government no role whatsoever in the negotiations conducted by the British Government. It therefore had no involvement in any decision on which documents should go to the DUP.”

Foster had earlier said that her party only found out about the proposed deal yesterday morning despite asking for it a number of times.

Speaking to Sky News this evening, Foster said that her party was only handed the text of the draft agreement yesterday morning. She claimed that she had been asking the Conservatives for a draft of the text for weeks but to no avail.

She said: “We had asked for a text on a number of occasions, to be told that there was no text. We spoke on Sunday evening – didn’t have text. The text landed with us late Monday morning. That left us in a very difficult position.

“We had to look at the text. We had to understand what the ramifications of what the text was.

And when we had a chance to do that, we realised that in no way could we sign up to that because, essentially, it was making a red line down the Irish Sea.

Yesterday, it had been reported that a deal had been struck between Theresa May’s government and the Irish Government over the border. London was expected to concede that there will be no “regulatory divergence” relating to the single market and customs union between Northern Ireland and the Republic.

However, Arlene Foster’s DUP collapsed that deal at the final hour saying it would not support any deal which goes about isolating the North from the United Kingdom.

When asked how the situation was going to be resolved considering Varadkar’s position that the text of the agreement should not be altered, Foster added: “The Irish Prime Minister can be as unequivocal as he likes. We’re also unequivocal in relation to these matters.

“This is no surprise to anyone. I’m a unionist and I want to see a retention of the union.”

Foster added that Leo Varadkar can be as “unequivocal as he likes” about what he wants from the UK border deal but insisted her party would not be moved on the issue.

The DUP earlier accused the Irish government of “flexing its muscles in a reckless and dangerous way” in relation to Brexit.

Referencing the change of Taoiseach, the party’s leader in Westminster Nigel Dodds noted that there had been a shift in the ‘tone and aggression’ being seen from Dublin, claiming it has put Anglo-Irish relations at risk.

Speaking at a press conference in London this afternoon, the MP for Belfast North called for a ‘sensible Brexit’ where the UK leaves the European Union as one nation.

Dodds told reporters that his party did not see the proposed text of the agreement until ”very late yesterday morning” and that it “did not translate” with what they were told was in it. He described it as “unacceptable” to his party.

He claimed there was “far too much ambiguity” and that it did not ‘nail down what needed to be nailed down’.

He also told the gathered media that it is the EU causing the problems of the hard border – not the DUP or the British government.

He believes there are “sensible ways” to explore the issue of the border and said he does not want talks to fail.

Conceding that there are areas where regulatory alignment makes sense on the island of Ireland, Dodds cited the single electricity market. However, he repeated the line that his party will not accept general regulatory alignment.

With reporting by Sean Murray and Christina Finn

Read: ‘DUP-ed’, ‘May humiliated’: How UK papers reacted to the last-minute block on Irish border deal

Read: Leo’s ‘surprise and disappointment’ as no deal reached on the question of the Irish border

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