02 March 2018
Responding to the speech from the Prime Minister, DUP Leader Rt Hon Arlene Foster said,
The Prime Minister has set forward the basis upon which it would be possible to move forward. The issues facing both the United Kingdom and the European Union are of fundamental importance and it is vital that we achieve outcomes that are sustainable for the future.
I welcome the Prime Minister’s clear commitment that she will not countenance any new border being created in the Irish Sea between Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom. Northern Ireland goods must have unfettered access to trade into Great Britain and the same must apply to Great Britain goods entering Northern Ireland. Indeed, it is particularly welcome that one of the ‘five tests’ is strengthening the Union.
Securing a sensible outcome for everyone will require the EU27 to consider innovative solutions rather than rule out any proposal which has not been conceived in Brussels. As Michel Barnier himself has said “the solution cannot be based on a precedent.”
Last August’s United Kingdom proposals were innovative but did not receive a fair hearing in many quarters. Those proposals can ensure there is no hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland after we exit the EU.
We want to see an outcome that protects the economic and constitutional integrity of the United Kingdom but one that also enables us to have a good trading relationship with our nearest neighbours.
The Northern Ireland section of the draft legal text published by the EU, has not only been rejected as unacceptable by the Government but also the Labour Party, thus reinforcing the fact that no United Kingdom Prime Minister could accept such a concept. .
A Democratic Unionist delegation will be meeting Michel Barnier on Tuesday in Brussels. Our message will be clear. We want to see a sensible Brexit that works for everyone.