The Democratic Unionist Party’s Nigel Dodds affirmed that the United Kingdom was right to vote to leave the European Union after the party thwarted a draft deal which would have left Northern Ireland tethered to the bloc.
After the socially conservative, predominantly working-class party scuppered Prime Minister Theresa May’s plan to agree to “continued regulatory alignment” between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland — which caused negotiations in Brussels to break down — the MP for North Belfast affirmed that the Home Nations of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland must leave the bloc together, and on the same terms.
“As we made clear in the House [of Commons] a few moments ago, the Democratic Unionist Party has consistently made clear that Northern Ireland must leave the EU on the same terms as the rest of the United Kingdom,” he told press following a parliamentary debate.
“Integrity of the United Kingdom comes first,” the MP for Belfast North added, asserting that there would be no border between Northern Ireland and the rest of the country in the Irish Sea.
He also argued that a soft border with the Republic of Ireland was perfectly possible without some sort of “special status” for the Province, as per a government paper published in August.
It should come as no surprise that the DUP stands strong for the Union.
We will not allow any settlement to be agreed which causes the divergence politically or economically of Northern Ireland from the rest of the United Kingdom. pic.twitter.com/3tvuttbUfZ
— Nigel Dodds (@NigelDoddsDUP) December 5, 2017
Mr. Dodds then rebuked the Republic for its “aggressive stance”, noting the country was “flexing its muscles” after the European Commission handed Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar an effective veto over any Brexit deal at the weekend — a decision which Mr. Dodds said the EU “may want to reconsider”.
“The DUP does stand strong for the Union, and we also issue a warning today to the Dublin government that by continuing its aggressive stance they are in danger of delivering for themselves the very outcomes that they say they want to avoid.
“Now more than ever it is clear that we took the correct view throughout the United Kingdom to vote to leave the European Union.”
May’s government rowed back on the leaked draft proposal after the DUP’s intervention, prompting Brexit secretary David Davis to state in the House of Commons on Tuesday that the “integrity of the UK comes first”.
“The suggestion we might leave the EU but leave one part of the United Kingdom behind still in the Single Market and Customs Union is emphatically not something the UK government is considering,” he claimed.
Divided Kingdom: Anger as Appeaser Theresa Looks Set to Sacrifice Northern Ireland to the EU https://t.co/KLuKoRXQM9
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) December 4, 2017
Jacob Rees-Mogg, a prominent Brexiteer and grassroots favourite to become the next leader of the Conservative Party, tweeted that Brexit had been “saved thanks to the DUP”, and later stood up in the House to express his “gratitude” to the patriotic for having “helped Her Majesty’s government stick to its own policy in these negotiations”.
He added that Britain must maintain her Brexit “red lines” in discussions with the EU.
Mrs. May had been due to sign up to a declaration on Monday paving the way for an agreement to move Brexit talks on to trade and transition at next week’s European summit, but the Prime Minister was forced to hold emergency talks with the DUP leader Arlene Foster when she learned of the “continued regulatory alignment” scheme.
David Davis told MPs on Tuesday he believes the government is “close to concluding the first stage” of Brexit talks and a frictionless border in Ireland will be finalised in the second stage of negotiations.