04 February 2019
DUP Leader Arlene Foster MLA will meet the Prime Minister Theresa May on Wednesday in Belfast.
Speaking in advance of Mrs May’s two-day visit to Northern Ireland, Mrs Foster said,
“Our message to the Prime Minister has been consistent. The backstop is the problem. It drives a coach and horses through the Belfast Agreement’s principle of consent. If implemented, it would build a new border between Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom. Such an outcome would undermine both the economic and constitutional integrity of the United Kingdom.
Parliament has spoken. A majority has rejected the current backstop. The European Union must now accept the need for the withdrawal agreement to be reopened. The toxic backstop must be dealt with.
The Prime Minister has been given a clear mandate from Parliament. In all our discussions with the Prime Minister and other cabinet Ministers, we have urged them to stand strong in negotiations and encourage their counterparts to be pragmatic.
We want an orderly exit from the European Union which works for London, Dublin, Belfast and Brussels. It is possible but requires political will. This is not a time for intransigence. It is time to respect unionists and nationalists alike in Northern Ireland and deliver a deal which is sensible and practical.
I have been encouraged by comments from Michel Barnier and Simon Coveney where they have recognised that a hard border can be avoided in any circumstance. It is important that the scaremongering about barbed wire and checkpoints is exposed as nonsense. Border communities should not have genuine fears exploited with such tall tales.”