DUP denies admitting Brexit was a disaster

Conor Murphy with the Sinn Féin delegation that met the secretary of state

THE DUP last night dismissed claims that the party privately acknowledges Brexit will be an economic disaster for Ireland.

Sinn Féin negotiator Conor Murphy suggested the public stance of Arlene Foster's party was very different to its behind-closed-doors view.

The Newry and Armagh MLA was commenting on a spate of exchanges between the DUP and Fine Gael over the UK's plans to sever ties with Brussels.

"The reality is the DUP have been acting against the wishes of the majority of people here in relation to their approach to Brexit," he said.

Mr Murphy said the DUP was wrong to complain when those who who would be "disastrously impacted" by Brexit voiced their concerns.

Asked for his reaction to Mr Varadkar's remark that he hoped Brexit could still be averted, Mr Murphy said: "I would hope that Brexit wouldn't happen either, but that's a matter for the British government and the British state and the people who live there.

"The reality is we recognise, as does everyone, including the DUP privately, that Brexit is going to be an economic disaster for the island of Ireland."

But the DUP rejected the former Sinn Féin minister's claim.

A party spokesman said: "Mr Murphy and Sinn Fein have now entered fantasy land by inventing DUP positions.

"Mr Murphy should be focused on giving Northern Ireland a voice in Brexit negotiations given the current impasse at Stormont with Sinn Féin's long list of demands."

The spokesman also claimed republicans were "using classic scaremongering tactics with little basis of fact or substance".

Mr Murphy was speaking after a meeting with Secretary of State James Brokenshire.

He said devolution talks expected to resume next month should be "short and focused on an early resolution", but claimed Mr Brokenshire did not table any new ideas on how the negotiations will be conducted during their 30-minute meeting at Stormont House.

Mr Brokenshire also held a meeting of the Business Advisory Group, which includes representatives from the regional arms of the CBI, Institute of Directors and Federation of Small Businesses, as well as the NI Chamber of Commerce.

The Northern Ireland Office said he urged the business leaders to continue adding their voices to demands for a return of power-sharing government, and would ensure the north's interests are fully represented in Brexit negotiations.

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