DUP rules out Northern Ireland only Brexit backstop

The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), Northern Ireland’s largest political party, has said it would not allow the province to be forced to accept EU regulations after Brexit, despite reports in The Times newspaper that the party had agreed to accept Northern Ireland abiding by some European Union rules after Brexit as part of a deal to replace the Irish backstop. 

EU and Irish officials have suggested that one way out of the current impasse in talks over a British withdrawal agreement would be for the creation of a Northern Ireland-only “backstop” that would align regulations with EU member Ireland. 

But the DUP, whose 10 members of parliament support British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservative government, said they would only accept EU laws if the Northern Ireland assembly could pick and choose - something that Ireland and the EU have repeatedly rejected in the past. 

“We will not accept a NI only backstop... It won’t be a backstop by any other name either. We will not be accepting separate arrangements that cut us off from UK,” DUP spokesman Sammy Wilson told BBC Radio Ulster. 

“The only different arrangements that we will accept for Northern Ireland are those where the Assembly has total scrutiny of any EU legislation, decides it’s in the interests of Northern Ireland, and doesn’t damage our relationship with the UK,” he said. 

“In those situations we will consider adopting appropriate legislation if we believe it is to the advantage of industry in Northern Ireland.” 

With Johnson vowing to take Britain out of the EU on Oct. 31 - deal or no deal - the bloc has focused in recent days on a Northern Ireland-only backstop as the best chance of getting a deal before the deadline lapses. 

That would involve applying different border rules to Northern Ireland from the rest of the country to help keep goods flowing across the Irish border. 

DUP leader Arlene Foster also rejected the Times story in a tweet, saying the “UK must leave as one nation.” 

“We are keen to see a sensible deal but not one that divides the internal market of the UK,” she said.

Read also: Northern Ireland: "Tempo of attacks is increasing"

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Gary Cartwright

Gary Cartwright

Gary Cartwright is publishing editor of EU Today. 

An experienced journalist and published author, he specialises in environment, energy, and defence.

He also has more than 10 years experience of working as a staff member in the EU institutions, working with political groups and MEPs in various policy areas.

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