European Union plan to avoid hard Irish border unacceptable, says Arlene Foster

May sidesteps 'lunatic fringe' in Brexit speech

The party may also stress that after Brexit, Northern Ireland companies must have unfettered access to markets across the UK.

The DUP may also tell the EU negotiator that there must not be an internal border within the United Kingdom and say they will not accept anything that undermines the integrity of the union of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Senior DUP members have concluded a "constructive" meeting with the EU's chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier.

Democratic Unionist Party leader Arlene Foster said after a meeting with the EU's chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, that there can be no division between Northern Ireland and the rest of the accommodate for a soft border with the EU.

She suggested the draft withdrawal agreement published by the European Union last Wednesday was not a faithful or fair representation of the agreement reached in last-ditch talks in December. "We will be urging our government to come forward with a different text because we think that all of the joint report needs to be reflected in what is going on here in the heart of Europe".

The Prime Minister said the United Kingdom and Irish governments, as well as the European Commission "will be working together" to avoid a hard border.

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"We will not countenance any proposal which would create a new border in the Irish Sea between Northern Ireland and Great Britain", said Mrs Foster, the DUP leader.

He added: "It is driving a coach and horses through the EU's own principles about no hard borders". Placing a border down the Irish Sea would not just be politically unacceptable but would be economically catastrophic.

Foster, whose party's eight MPs give the prime minister a working majority in parliament, said she had put in clear terms to Barnier the strength of feeling in her party in opposition to such a development.

"What emerges clearly from this research is the high degree of integration of the economies north and south".

Although she described the summit in Brussels as "a good and very open meeting", she said their current draft legal text on the Irish border "has omissions in it, it also overreaches in other areas". Sorry, the European Union does not have the right to go into the Belfast Agreement in that fashion.

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