Thursday 17 October 2019

DUP's Foster calls for calm but won't rule out bringing down Theresa May

Visit: DUP leader Arlene Foster arrives in Dublin. Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Visit: DUP leader Arlene Foster arrives in Dublin. Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

DUP leader Arlene Foster has refused to rule out collapsing the UK government if her "blood red lines" on Brexit aren't met.

On a visit to Dublin, Ms Foster called for "calm heads" ahead of this week's EU summit - but said she was "very clear" in her demands.

"We need to see that the whole of the United Kingdom leaves the EU together and there aren't differences made between Northern Ireland and any other parts of the United Kingdom," she said.

The DUP leader met with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin.

She described her relationship with the Irish Government as "good" and said the ultimate deal on Brexit would have to be one that "works for our friends and colleagues in the Republic of Ireland as well".

Ms Foster told reporters it was important to engage, that there was no point in standing back and shouting at each other, that understanding should be developed between unionists and the Irish Government. "There have to be cool heads in what is a very febrile atmosphere."

Ms Foster said the EU's backstop suggestion whereby Northern Ireland would continue to follow the bloc's rules if no trade deal is struck would create barriers with Great Britain.

"Great Britain is our largest market by far and we cannot have barriers," she said.

The DUP leader said Northern Ireland sent three-and-a-half times more goods to Great Britain than to the Republic.

Following Ms Foster and Mr Varadkar's dinner meeting at a Dublin restaurant, a spokesman for the Taoiseach said they had a good discussion in "a very pleasant atmosphere".

Discussions included Brexit, devolution in Northern Ireland and the need to get the power sharing Assembly back up and running. "Both parties emphasised that no matter what happens, it's vital to have real and mutual understanding across the Border and to maintain North-south co-operation."

Mr Martin said he used his meeting to emphasise the importance of the so-called Irish 'backstop'.

Irish Independent

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