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Arlene Foster suggests she is open to special arrangements for North as part of Brexit deal

The DUP leader made the suggestion to journalists in Dublin this evening.

DUP leader Arlene Foster (file photo)
DUP leader Arlene Foster (file photo)
Image: Eamonn Farrell/RollingNews.ie

DUP LEADER ARLENE Foster has indicated for the first time that she may be open to a Brexit solution that would involve special arrangements for the North.

Speaking to journalists in Dublin this evening, Foster suggested that a new Brexit deal in which the North was treated differently to the rest of the UK could be palatable to her party.

According to The Irish Times, Foster said she “hoped” solutions specific to the North would be possible if they did not affect the constitutional position of the region.

“I think what we want to see is a recognition that we are on an island, we do recognise the unique history and geography, but we also have to recognise that we are in the United Kingdom,” she is reported to have said.

The DUP leader was speaking ahead of an address to the Dublin Chamber of Commerce in central Dublin.

During her speech, Foster said she recognised that many in Ireland were shocked at the outcome of the 2016 Brexit referendum, and that they feared for the future about what a new relationship with the UK would entail.

But she added:

I respect the fact that Ireland has sought to bring about solutions which would keep the UK in the closest possible future relationship with the European Union but equally Ireland has to recognise that the referendum result has to be upheld and that ultimately it is for the Government of the United Kingdom to determine whether future arrangements are compatible with the referendum result.

Nevertheless, she said that a no-deal Brexit was not the preferred outcome, and that her party wanted to see an agreement reached which worked for Ireland, the United Kingdom, and the other EU member states.

She described the backstop as “anti-democratic” and “unconstitutional”, reiterating that it was her party’s position that it should be removed from the UK’s withdrawal agreement.

“We are clear that the United Kingdom, including Northern Ireland, must leave the EU customs union and the single market,” she said.

“Both the UK-wide and the Northern Ireland specific backstop were designed so that Northern Ireland would remain as part of the EU customs code.

“The concept that there could ever be customs duties falling due within the internal market of the United Kingdom following departure from the European Union is one we could never support.”

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