Dublin using North for its own ends on Brexit, claims Foster

Government’s approach ‘careless’ as only EU will reimpose border, says DUP leader

The UK must find a way to ensure there is no return to Border checks on the island of Ireland after Brexit before the second phase of the talks on a future trading relationship with the EU can begin, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said. Video: Reuters

 

Arlene Foster has accused the Taoiseach of using Northern Ireland to extract concessions for Dublin in negotiations between Britain and the European Union after Brexit.

Speaking after a meeting with Theresa May in 10 Downing Street, the DUP leader said the Government’s approach in advance of next month’s EU summit was careless.

“I have to say I was rather concerned to see the way they were trying to use Northern Ireland to get maximum leverage in relation to the negotiations at present. I think that’s careless and I don’t agree with that,” she said.

“Obviously, we have worked very hard to have a peaceful Northern Ireland and it would be very wrong to suggest that leaving the European Union would in some way threaten that peace. Because of course it’s the people of Northern Ireland who have brought about the peace. Others have supported us and we fully recognise that,” she told The Irish Times.

Ms Foster said the prime minister had restated her opposition to introducing any new border between Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom. The DUP leader said the Government should work with London and Belfast to find practical solutions that can keep the Border frictionless.

‘Practical outworkings’

“If people are going to put up borders it will be the European Union that puts up a border. It will certainly not be the United Kingdom or Northern Ireland.

“So what we want to see is practical outworkings of the future. I think from the Irish Government point of view, we would really like to engage on that level. Because I think their businesses would like to see them engage and the economy would like to see them engage because of course the UK is the main market for the Republic of Ireland,” she said.

Foreign secretary Boris Johnson told MPs on Tuesday that a return to a hard border in Ireland was “unthinkable”. He said he saw during his visit to Dublin last week how live an issue the Border is in Irish politics.

“There can be no hard border. That would be unthinkable, and it would be economic and political madness. I think everybody, on both sides of this House, understands the social, political and spiritual ramifications of allowing any such thing to happen.

“That is why it is so important that we get on to the second phase of the negotiations, that we get sufficient progress at the European Council in December and that we are able to debate these issues properly,” he said.