Monday, 30 Mar 2020

Brexit LIVE: Not a chance! Foster lashes out at Brussels and Westminster over backstop

Party sources suggested Ms Foster might shift her red lines on Brexit and back a fresh deal which would see Northern Ireland abiding by some EU rules to remove the need for the Irish backstop. But she was quick to dismiss the reports and insisted any moves which made Northern Ireland different to the rest of the UK would be unacceptable to the party.

Ms Foster tweeted: “UK must leave as one nation.

“We are keen to see a sensible deal but not one that divides the internal market of the UK.

“We will not support any arrangements that create a barrier to east-west trade.

“Anonymous sources lead to nonsense stories.”

Earlier, EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier said there was “no reason to be optimistic” that a new agreement would be brokered before Boris Johnson’s deadline to ask for a delay.

Mr Barnier told the European Parliament he was unable to say whether contacts with the UK Government would result in a deal by mid-October.

The Prime Minister is now legally bound to ask Brussels for an extension to Article 50 if he cannot get MPs to back a deal by October 19, after Parliament approved legislation designed to prevent a no deal.

Mr Barnier said: “I cannot tell you objectively whether contacts with the Government of Mr Johnson will be able to reach an agreement by mid-October.

“While we have previously reached an agreement, as far as we can speak, we have no reason to be optimistic.”

Also yesterday, David Sassoli, the European Parliament’s president, said the bloc was ready to make the offer if the Prime Minister can secure the support of MPs.

He said: “We are willing to go back to the original EU proposal… which is that a backstop will only be provided for Northern Ireland.”


8.26am update: Sammy Wilson dismisses Brexit compromise reports

DUP Brexit spokesman Sammy Wilson has joined party leader Arlene Foster in dismissing reports the party as poised to agree to a Northern Ireland only backstop.

He told BBC Radio 4 Today’s programme the suggestions were “completely untrue”.

Mr Wilson said: “We will not be accepting separate arrangements for Northern Ireland that cut us off from the United Kingdom.

“The only different arrangements we will accept for Northern Ireland are those where the assembly has total scrutiny of any EU legislation it decides are in the interest of Northern Ireland and doesn’t damage our relationship with the UK.

“And in those situations we will consider adopting appropriate legislation of we believe it is to the advantage of industry in Northern Ireland.”

7.59am update: Boris heads north to bolster Brexit support

Boris Johnson is visiting Labour’s northern heartlands today where he will give a speech in Rotherham to the Convention of the North.

He is expected to promise northern communities “control over the things that matter to them,” and a new Northern Powerhouse growth body to drive the region’s economy.

7.30am update: Brexit deal would boost UK economy – KPMG

A no deal Brexit could spark Britain’s first recession for a decade, according to new analysis.

A KPMG study found GDP could contract by 1.5 percent next year if the UK left the European Union on October 31 without a withdrawal agreement.

But Brexit deal which finally resolves some of the uncertainties about the UK’s future trading relationship with the EU could lead the UK economy to perform better in 2020 than previously expected with growth of 1.5 percent, the analysis suggests.

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