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DUP backs calls for alternative arrangements to Irish border backstop

Prime Minister Theresa May (left) and Arlene Foster, the leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) during a visit to Belleek pottery factory on the northern side of the border between Enniskillen in Northern Ireland and Ballyshannon in Donegal. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday July 19, 2018. See PA story POLITICS Brexit Ireland. Photo credit should read: Clodagh Kilcoyne/PA Wire

By Michael McHugh, Press Association

DUP leader Arlene Foster has backed calls for alternative arrangements to the Irish border backstop.

It could unify the views of Remain and Leave supporters at Westminster, the head of Northern Ireland's largest party said.

Her 10 MPs endorsed the plan before a series of Commons votes on Tuesday which could help shape the next phase of talks with the EU and includes an amendment on the backstop.

Mrs Foster said: "It also gives a feasible alternative to the backstop proposed by the European Union which would split the United Kingdom or keep the entire United Kingdom in the customs union and single market.

"Importantly, this proposal would also offer a route towards negotiating a future trade relationship between the United Kingdom and the European Union."

If Prime Minister Theresa May seeks a united front between elements in her own party and the DUP in EU negotiations she should not snub the proposition contained in Sir Graham Brady's amendment, the DUP leader said.

Mrs Foster added: "There is no better time to advance this alternative, given the confusion and disarray which is now manifesting itself in Brussels.

"This has been displayed both by the contradictory EU statements and the panic-stricken behaviour of the Irish government."

The DUP adamantly opposes the Irish border backstop, an insurance policy to prevent a hard border if no better deal is found in future trade talks with the EU.

The unionist party fears it could mark regulatory divergence between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK, effectively creating a border down the Irish Sea.

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