EU using Northern Ireland as Brexit 'whipping boy'
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DUP leader Jeffrey Donaldson insisted the UK and EU needed to scrap the Northern Ireland protocol. While speaking to LBC’s Iain Dale, Mr Donaldson claimed the EU had attempted to use Northern Ireland as a whipping boy. Mr Dale claimed he has recently spoken to former Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier who denies these claims.
He said: “I spent an hour with Michel Barnier last week and I think it turned out to be quite an interesting interview.
“I did put it to him that the EU had weaponised Northern Ireland, I quoted the Martin Selmayr comment about Northern Ireland being the price that the UK will have to pay for Brexit.
“Mr Barnier absolutely denied that they had done anything, is that still your view Mr Donaldson that they did?”
The DUP leader replied: “I have no doubt the EU have used Northern Ireland as a kind of whipping boy.
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“They have used Northern Ireland as a way to punish the UK for leaving the European Union.
“What I am focussed on now is finding a solution, removing the Irish Sea border.
“I think it is wrong that within the UK we now have a customs border separating one part of the UK from another part of the UK.
“That is a problem that the UK Government needs to resolve.”
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The LBC host questioned the UK’s ability to drop the Northern Ireland protocol.
He said that both sides signed and agreed to the protocol and while there can be slight amendments and tinkering, neither side would be prepared to scrap it entirely.
The DUP leader insisted it was an important step needed towards the prosperity of Northern Ireland politically and economically.
He answered: “I think they need to replace it with arrangements that respect Northern Ireland’s place within the UK.
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“It was Lord Frost who said the protocol is not sustainable, we agree with him.
“It is not sustainable to have a border in the Northern Irish Sea and it is not sustainable to undermine economic integrity of the UK.
“It certainly isn’t conducive to political stability in Northern Ireland that you have a protocol that harms our economy and undermines political stability.”
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