Wednesday 20 November 2019

Leaked emails show Arlene Foster preparing for no-deal Brexit

Prime Minister Theresa May (left) and Arlene Foster (Clodagh Kilcoyne/AP)
Prime Minister Theresa May (left) and Arlene Foster (Clodagh Kilcoyne/AP) Newsdesk Newsdesk

An explosive set of leaked emails has shown DUP leader Arlene Foster preparing for a no-deal Brexit as the most likely outcome after frayed negotiations this week with the EU.

In the exchange between senior UK officials, seen by The Observer, it is reported Mrs Foster sees a no-deal Brexit as the "likeliest outcome".

The DUP leader this week met with the EU's chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier to discuss Northern Ireland's post-Brexit future and a potential backstop arrangement which would maintain customs alignment between the Northern Ireland and the EU - a outcome the DUP stridently opposes.

Writing in the Belfast Telegraph on Saturday, Mrs Foster said: "The EU spin on this offer suggested that Northern Ireland would have the best of both worlds ­— ie we would have full access to the EU single market and full access to the UK single market. That was a lie. We would not."

In the leaked email exchange, an adviser involved in the Brexit talks describes Mrs Foster's comments during a meeting with leader of the Conservative MEPs Ashley Fox.

"She described Barnier as being difficult and hostile in her meeting today…," the leaked exchange reads.

"AF [Arlene Foster] said the DUP were ready for a no-deal scenario, which she now believed was the likeliest one.”

It is also noted that it was not clear whether the DUP leader was threatening to pull down the confidence-and-supply arrangement with the Conservative Government, or was simply making her plans clear.

The leaked emails come amid a turbulent day for Theresa May and efforts to unite her Government behind her Brexit plan.

Belfast Telegraph

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