The UK government would not sign a Brexit deal that signs Northern Ireland up to EU rules, a Cabinet minister insisted today.
Culture minister Jeremy Wright’s comments come after Prime Minister Theresa May’s Westminster allies threatened to pull support for an agreement if Northern Ireland were separated from the UK via a customs border down the Irish sea.
The Times reported that such a border is the EU’s preferred option, after seeing a letter May sent to the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) saying she would not let this “come into force”.
Her wording led the DUP to believe that such a clause would appear in an agreement, meaning Northern Ireland would be tied to EU rules, rather than UK rules.
DUP leader Arlene Foster today said: “The Prime Minister’s letter raises alarm bells for those who value the integrity of our precious union and for those who want a proper Brexit for the whole of the United Kingdom.
“From her letter, it appears the Prime Minister is wedded to the idea of a border down the Irish Sea with Northern Ireland in the EU single market regulatory regime.”
Speaking to the BBC, Wright said: “There is no doubt that we have understood the concern that the DUP and others have expressed about a hard border down the Irish Sea, we share it, and we will not accept a deal that involves that component.”
Sterling fell from 1.306 against the dollar to 1.300 following the news.