No DUP split over Brexit Withdrawal Agreement, insists Foster

The leader of the DUP has rejected suggestions her party is split on the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement.

Arlene Foster said reports that seven of her 10 MPs backed the deal were not true.

“No, there’s no splits within the Democratic Unionist Party,” she said. “I’m not quite sure where that’s coming from.”

Mrs Foster also denied claims that her party was in negotiations with Labour MPs on the Common Market 2.0 Brexit alternative.

(PA Graphics)

“We are not in any discussions with the Labour Party,” she said.

However, she did not rule out party support for a softer version of Brexit – one that would not include a backstop creating potential internal barriers within the UK.

“We have a very simple way of judging all of this,” said told reporters in Belfast when pressed on potential support for a soft Brexit. “It’s what will protect the Union and what will respect the referendum result and that’s always been our position.

“We have been very clear about our one red line and that remains the position. It’s of no surprise to anyone that the Union will always be our first priority and that still remains the case.”

Asked if she would prefer staying in the EU to the current withdrawal deal, she replied: “We do not like the current Withdrawal Agreement – I think everyone is very much aware of that – and the reason we don’t like it is because of the backstop issue.

“The fact that it separates Northern Ireland out from the rest of the United Kingdom puts an internal border within the United Kingdom and makes us subject to rules and regulations which the rest of the United Kingdom will not be subject to, without having any say in those rules and regulations.

“As I say, we will judge everything by what protects the Union and what protects the referendum result.”

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