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Sammy Wilson: 'We know the Irish; if you stand up to them, they will take you seriously'

The DUP’s Brexit spokesman made his comments on BBC Radio 4 this morning.

DUP MP Sammy Wilson (file photo)
DUP MP Sammy Wilson (file photo)
Image: SIPA USA/PA Images

THE DUP’S BREXIT spokesman Sammy Wilson believes that pressure is growing on Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to change his attitude towards the EU’s Brexit negotiations.

In an interview with BBC Radio 4′s Today programme, Wilson claimed that Britain should stand up to Ireland in order to get a better withdrawal deal from the European Union.

“Look, we know the Irish,” he said. “If you vacillate, they’ll push you around; if you stand up to them, they will start to take you seriously.”

In earlier comments on the show, Wilson said that it was his experience that the Irish government would change its negotiating stance if it met with enough opposition.

Said Wilson:

The one thing I do know is that once Dublin knows that you mean what you say and say what you mean, then I think that you sometimes find that they’ve a different attitude.

Wilson claimed that the Taoiseach’s refusal to remove the backstop – which would prevent a hard border on the island of Ireland – from the UK’s withdrawal agreement was not a stance shared by a large number of Irish people.

He also said that Varadkar had already compromised in the face of a “weak” negotiating team, although he did not give specific details.

“Leo Varadkar’s view on how Brexit should be negotiated is not a unanimous view in the Republic,” he said.

“There are many people in the Republic who now are thinking that Ireland has perhaps overstretched itself, overstated its case, and that stance could damage the Irish economy.

“I think that will put immense pressure on Leo Varadkar to look at a different attitude.”

Wilson made his comments ahead of a visit to Belfast by the two remaining candidates in the Conservative Party leadership contest, Jeremy Hunt and Boris Johnson, today.

Both candidates have said that they are willing to leave the European Union without a deal, with Hunt saying yesterday that he believes the EU will reopen negotiations if its negotiators believe there is a serious threat of a no-deal Brexit.

The pair will take part in hustings in Belfast today, when they are expected to face questions from party members about their proposals to resolve the border issue and remove the backstop from the UK’s withdrawal agreement.

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