The draft EU Withdrawal Agreement flies in the face of Government commitments on Northern Ireland, Nigel Dodds has said.
The DUP deputy leader met Prime Minister Theresa May on Thursday along with his party’s Brexit spokesman Sammy Wilson and MEP Diane Dodds.
He reiterated the party’s concerns over the proposed Northern Ireland border backstop, which proponents in Europe and the Irish Republic have called an insurance policy to protect frictionless all-island trade.
Mr Dodds said: “The Irish Republic’s ‘no deal’ preparations published just before Christmas have laid bare the nonsense propaganda about a hard border.
“No-one wants a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic.
“Indeed, its becoming clearer by the day that no one is ever going to construct such a border.
“With this clarity emerging in London, Dublin and Brussels, there is evidently no need for the aspects of the Withdrawal Agreement, which have been so vigorously opposed by a broad cross-section of the House of Commons.
“The Withdrawal Agreement, as currently proposed, flies in the face of the Government’s commitments on Northern Ireland as we leave the EU.”
Statement following meeting with @10DowningStreet
Principled objections to Withdrawal Agreement remain: Dodds pic.twitter.com/wKmgZp9LjV
— Nigel Dodds (@NigelDoddsDUP) January 3, 2019
The UK Government has said it does not want a hard border reimposed on the island of Ireland.
Mrs May has also said the country will exit the EU as one United Kingdom.
Contrary to pro-EU spin, the border backstop keeping Northern Ireland aligned with the Republic on trade matters is not the best of both worlds, Mr Dodds said.
“It is potentially indefinite in time, would place a barrier between us and our main trading partner in Great Britain and give enormous leverage to the European Union in the negotiations on the future relationship with the United Kingdom.”
Mr Dodds said the party would have further discussions with the Prime Minister and will continue to work with the Government in the interests of getting a better deal.
“Brussels must now demonstrate that if it truly cares about Northern Ireland, then erecting a new east-west barrier should be no more palatable than having any new north-south barriers,” he said.
Meanwhile, Best for Britain, which describes itself as an organisation attempting to keep the UK open to EU membership, said the DUP had “pulled the rug out” from underneath the Prime Minister.
It claimed: “Her Brexit deal is dead in the water. If Theresa May can’t convince Nigel Dodds and her own party to back her deal after a one-to-one, why should the country support it?
“It irritates Leavers and Remainers alike, and it actively concedes influence over British laws. It’s a bad deal. There’s only one solution to this nightmare.
“We need to give the public a final say on Brexit with the option to stay and strengthen ourselves within Europe.”