1. ITV Report

DUP rejects Northern Ireland-only backstop suggestion from EU

The DUP's Sammy Wilson has said a Northern Ireland only backstop has already been ruled out by the British Government. Credit: UTV

A Northern Ireland-only backstop with Stormont being handed an opt-out vote has been branded a "non-runner" by the DUP.

Reports from Brussels suggest the EU could offer the arrangement as a way to break the Brexit impasse.

According to the Times, the EU may be willing to accept a Northern Ireland backstop - with the region remaining in the single market for goods and the customs union - and allow Stormont to vote after a set period on whether it wants to exit the mechanism.

Significantly, it was reported that any vote to leave the backstop would require the consent of both the nationalist and the unionist community in the region.

DUP MP Sammy Wilson rejected the idea, adding the proposal by the EU came as no surprise.

“Although they dress it up in fancy language in Mrs May’s deal, they always intended that Northern Ireland would have to remain part of the European Union while the rest of the United Kingdom left, that would be the price of the United Kingdom getting out,” he told UTV News.

“No Prime Minister of the United Kingdom could ever accept a demand for the break-up of the union in that way.”

Sinn Féin vice president Michelle O’Neill was in Brussels on Wednesday to meet EU officials.

She branded the Stormont veto on future arrangements proposed by the Prime Minister in his new plan a “non-runner” and “unrealistic”.

“British government proposals published last week are worse than a no deal crash out and drive a coach and horses through the Good Friday Agreement,” she said.

“As we approach the eleventh hour of the Brexit negotiations, we need a deal for the north which includes the backstop if we are to protect jobs, livelihoods and maintain seamless trade across the island of Ireland.”