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DUP will not support May's Irish Sea border backstop plan - Arlene Foster

DUP will not support May's Irish Sea border backstop plan - Arlene Foster

In an interview with RTE Mrs Foster confirmed that her party would not support any Brexit withdrawal deal which includes a Northern Ireland only "backstop" and a border in the Irish Sea.

Brexit was top of the agenda and it dominated questions at the press conference afterwards - following that leak of the PM's letter to the DUP.

The Democratic Unionist Party which props up the fragile and divided Conservative government is furious after receiving a letter from May which that refused to rule out a backstop for Northern Ireland alone.

The DUP has interpreted the wording of her letter to mean that Northern Ireland-only measures will be contained in the Brexit divorce deal despite Mrs May's insistence it will never come into effect.

May has asked for a UK-wide backstop to be included in the Withdrawal Agreement instead of the EU's preferred Northern Ireland-only policy.

The fragile alliance keeping Ms May in power has been strained as the DUP railed against measures it fears will create a border down the Irish Sea between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.

Britain has suggested a UK-wide backstop, with Britain remaining aligned with the EU customs union for a limited time after 2020.

Mr Varadkar also said he has "no specific concerns" about the letters between British Prime Minister Theresa May and the DUP, but again stressed the importance of avoiding a hard border in Ireland.

The party's Westminster leader, Mr Dodds, warned on Sky News: "I think the prime minister will hopefully realise what can be got through parliament and what can't".

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It states that the EU has proposed a contingency plan to keep Northern Ireland tied to Brussels' customs union and single market if future trade talks are unsuccessful.

The EU is adamant that there can not be a time limit - any backstop must apply "unless and until" it is no longer needed.

"There will be product on the table which all will have signed up to that will have involved compromises on all sides", he said.

"I'm hopeful that it can be done in the next few weeks, I think it is more likely than not that we will be able to conclude an agreement in the next few weeks before the end of the year", he said.

"The last time that happened, how ironic, is when David Cameron called for the Brexit referendum in 2016".

He was speaking at a meeting of the British Irish Council on the Isle of Man.

"If we've got an agreement, with the United Kingdom (government) recommending the deal as a good deal for the whole United Kingdom, and the 27 members of the European Union also accepting the deal, I think that's the point at which people need to come together, vote for that deal and let's get on with delivering on the wish of the British people to leave the European Union".

Earlier Mr Varadkar said: "certainly the position of the Irish Government has always been that we don't want to see any new borders between us and that applies as much between Larne and Stranraer or between Belfast and London as it does between Newry and Dundalk".

"That is also equally important", said Ms Bradley.