DUP Brexit meeting with Barnier 'constructive' but calls for 'greater flexibility'

DUP Brexit meeting with Barnier 'constructive' but calls for 'greater flexibility'

The EU's draft Withdrawal Treaty published last week was not a "faithful" or "fair legal interpretation" of the agreement reached between the United Kingdom and EU in December, according to the leader of the Democratic Unionist Party in Northern Ireland.

A Sinn Féin delegation travelled to Brussels yesterday for talks with the EU's chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier.
Following the meeting, Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald said she raised the "continued frustration" at the lack of clarity on solutions for the Irish border.

Senior DUP members have concluded a "constructive" meeting with the EU's chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier. She was accompanied by party colleagues MP Nigel Dodds, Brexit spokesman Sammy Wilson and MEP Diane Dodds. "We will be urging our government to come forward with a different text".

"The joint report in its totality needs to be reflected", she said, insisting that the DUP is "ad idem" with British prime minister Theresa May on the issue.

The head of the Democratic Unionist Party, whose 10 MPs prop up Mrs May's Government, said her party could never support such a plan, which would effectively put a customs border in the Irish Sea.

Barnier conceded, however, in a press conference last week that there may need to be checks on goods coming from Northern Ireland at ports and airports in the rest of the United Kingdom should the proposal for "full alignment" be implemented. Placing a border down the Irish Sea would not just be politically unacceptable but would be economically catastrophic. "Also there is a need to deal with some of the overreach in relation to the European Union text", she added of the draft legal text.

Pointing to the need for any policy to comply with the Good Friday Agreement, he told reporters: "These proposals drive a coach and horses through the principle of consent". "It talks about giving the north-south ministerial council powers".

Though she described the meeting as "a good and very open meeting", she said that "the current draft legal text has omissions in it, it also overreaches in other areas".

Ahead of the meeting on Tuesday morning Mr Barnier tweeted that "the European Union is looking for practical solutions to avoiding a hard border, in full respect of the constitutional status of NI, as set out in the GFA".

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