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Government faces rude awakening on Brexit deal, warns DUP

Karen Bradley, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (centre front) gives evidence before the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee at Portcullis House, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday November 21, 2018. See PA story POLITICS Bradley. Photo credit should read: PA/PA Wire

By Michael McHugh, Press Association

The DUP has warned the Government it faces a "rude awakening" over its draft EU withdrawal deal.

Prime Minister Theresa May is on Thursday expected to meet business leaders from Northern Ireland who back the proposed accord.

But her Government faces calls from her erstwhile Democratic Unionist allies to take into account contrary opinions in the region.

Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley fielded stiff criticism from DUP members of her scrutiny committee at Westminster on Wednesday.

Strangford MP Jim Shannon told her: "If you don't cast your net wider and seek opinions of other people and stop seeking the... one blinkered opinion, which it is clear to me that some people are pursuing, then you are going to get a very rude awakening."

The withdrawal deal was agreed in principle by Mrs May and the EU last week.

It includes a £39 billion divorce bill and the customs backstop which keeps the UK in the EU customs union to prevent the return of a hard Irish border with checkpoints on the frontier.

Ms Bradley acknowledged a difference of opinion with Mr Shannon but said government is about taking decisions and providing leadership.

She said: "The safeguards put in place, the reassurances given, the way that the EU dislike the backstop, means as a legal construct, not as a person or country, there is no way that there will be a situation where we can be bound into the backstop indefinitely.

"The right thing to do is to accept the deal and to get the future relationship and make sure we never go into the backstop in any way."

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