May warned against Irish Sea border
Nigel Dodds told the DUP conference in Belfast that a special arrangement for Northern Ireland should be off the table in talks
Theresa May has been warned by the DUP that the question of using the Irish Sea as a post-Brexit border between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK is "non-negotiable".
Nigel Dodds, the leader of the DUP in Westminster, said a special arrangement for Northern Ireland should be off the table during the Brexit negotiations.
The border issue has been one of the major sticking points of Brexit talks as the EU, UK and Ireland have struggled to agree how to regulate trade and the movement of people on the island post-Brexit.
DUP leader Arlene Foster also warned against any barriers that would risk Northern Ireland's trading relationship with the rest of the UK.
She added that she had written to all 27 EU leaders to set out her party's position.
Addressing the DUP conference in Belfast, she said: "We want a sensible Brexit, a Brexit that works for Northern Ireland and for the United Kingdom.
"However, we will not support any arrangements that create barriers to trade between Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom or any suggestion that Northern Ireland, unlike the rest of the UK, will have to mirror European regulations.
"The economic reality for our economy is that our most important trading relationship is with the rest of the United Kingdom and we will do nothing that puts that at risk in any way. We welcome the assurances from the prime minister and the UK Brexit team that no such internal barriers will be countenanced and that as we joined the then European Community as one nation we will leave as one United Kingdom."
Julian Smith, Mrs May's chief whip, who also gave a speech at the conference, said his door was always "open" for DUP MPs in Westminster.
It comes after Taoiseach Leo Varadkar threatened to block talks on the future relationship between the EU and the UK unless it was given "credible answers and a credible road map" to ensure there was no hard border.
The government here backs a solution where Northern Ireland would remain part of the single market and customs union and adhere to EU standards after Brexit. This would render border checks unnecessary but has been ruled out by the British.
There are fears that the establishment of post-Brexit physical infrastructure risks a return to the hard border of the Troubles-era.
Mrs May has repeatedly said the UK, including Northern Ireland, will leave the single market and the customs union after Brexit. She said yesterday: "We [the UK and the Republic] have the same desire. We want to ensure the free movement of people and trade across the border can carry on as now."