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September 19, 2019

Foster calls for ‘sensible’ Brexit Deal


September 19, 2019

DUBLIN: The leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) has said she wants a “sensible” Brexit deal that works for people in Northern Ireland and in the Republic.

Arlene Foster also rejected claims that the party is softening its position on Brexit. Foster, who leads the biggest party in Northern Ireland, said that the DUP wants a Brexit deal that works for the UK constitutional position.

The unionist leader is in Dublin to give an address to members of the Dublin Chamber of Commerce. Speaking to the media, Foster said that it is important there is an understanding of both the nationalist and unionist position.

Foster added: “I’ve heard from Europe today ... about the majority in Northern Ireland wanting to have the backstop. But if you look at the Belfast Agreement, it’s about parallel consent, it’s about the consent of nationalism and the consent of unionism.“There are no unionist MLAs who support the backstop at present so therefore there is a need to find a way forward which everybody can buy in to.”

Asked about claims that the DUP is softening its position, she said: “They really should look back at our position in 2016, directly after the referendum took place, to the letter that I signed with Martin McGuinness on the 10th August.

“They should look at our Westminster manifesto from 2017, when we talked about the need to find a sensible deal and a sensible way forward as well.

There is a lot of commentary about the DUP being no-deal Brexiteers, but I think as people look at the evidence they will find something very different.”

The letter, jointly signed by Foster and the late Martin McGuinness, was sent to former prime minister Theresa May in 2016 in which they outlined their concerns about Brexit.

Foster added: “We recognise we are all on the island of Ireland, separated from Great Britain, but at the same time we’re also part of the United Kingdom and that has to be respected as well.”

She continues to back Boris Johnson’s position that the backstop in the Withdrawal agreement has to go. She added: “I know people are very hung up on language during the Brexit negotiations, we’ve had a whole new lexicon of language that has developed over this past couple of years. I think what’s important to me is that it’s a deal that works for everyone.”

Asked if she was planning to meet Irish premier Leo Varadkar, Foster responded: “He may well meet me very soon.”

Speaking at the Dublin event on Wednesday, Foster said in her speech that the “upheaval and the changing circumstances” have placed strains on relationships both north and south as well as between London and Dublin.

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