Brexit

British government must 'stand up' to Brexit commitments, Arlene Foster says

First Minister Arlene Foster has urged the British government to "stand up" to their Brexit commitments
Rebecca Black, Press Association

First Minister Arlene Foster has urged the British government to "stand up" to their Brexit commitments.

Arlene Foster conceded she does not like the Northern Ireland Protocol, which will see UK authorities apply EU customs rules to goods entering the north, but has accepted it is a "legislative reality".

However she said the British government must "stand up" to commitments made in its command paper.

Some unionists have expressed concerns that the protocol creates a border down the Irish Sea.

Ms Foster was challenged over accepting the protocol, at Stormont today, by Traditional Unionist Voice party leader Jim Allister.

"Does she no longer fear or think that it will create constitutional and economic damage of a catastrophic nature," he said.

The first minister responded: "There is not much point in standing and saying we don't accept the protocol, when the protocol is legislative reality.

"I may not like it, I don't like it, let's be very clear about that.

"But my job now as first minister is to try and make sure that we minimise any checks between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, because obviously there are checks at the moment, SPS checks between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, but we have to make sure that those are kept to a minimum.

"We must make sure that there is unfettered access, as it says in the UK Government command paper.

"We will, very much, want to see the government standing up to what their commitments are in the command paper."

Mrs Foster also responded to a question from Sinn Féin MLA Catherine Kelly, asking for an update on the implementation of the protocol.

She said that work is under way on aspects within Stormont's remit, such as agri-food requirements.

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