Northern Ireland farmers and businesses urge DUP to rethink opposition to Brexit deal
Influential farming and business organisations in Northern Ireland have urged the Democratic Unionists to drop their opposition to the draft Brexit deal.
The Ulster Farmers Union (UFU), which represents thousands of farmers, many of whom would traditionally vote DUP, has called on the party to vote for the text, claiming a no-deal Brexit would be “absolutely disastrous” for the farming and agri-food sector in the region.
The DUP, which styles itself as a pro-business party, is facing similar calls from figures within the commercial sector.
The party’s chief whip, Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, has also faced criticism after claiming some of the agricultural and business bodies supporting the deal had not read the 585-page document.
The DUP has vowed to vote down Theresa May’s deal, claiming the proposals for an Irish border “backstop” will see Northern Ireland treated differently to the rest of the UK.
The party has insisted the accord, if passed, would undermine the constitutional integrity of the UK.
The UFU, an organisation representing the interests of 11,500 family farms in Northern Ireland, called on the DUP to change tack.
UFU chief executive Wesley Aston told the Nolan Show on BBC Radio Ulster: “We want to make sure we avoid a no-deal situation. No deal for Northern Ireland agri-food and farming in particular would be absolutely disastrous and we have made that patently clear over this last while.”