Northern Ireland news

Sammy Wilson 'gets desperate' after accusing Leo Varadkar of 'Brit-bashing'

 Sammy Wilson (left) accused Leo Varadkar of 'Brit-bashing'

SAMMY Wilson has been accused of resorting to “desperate” arguments after the DUP Brexit spokesman rounded on Leo Varadkar, accusing the taoiseach of “Brit-bashing”.

The East Antrim MP’s comments came as his party continued to pressurise Theresa May over her support for the draft Brexit withdrawal agreement, which has the overwhelming backing of Northern Ireland’s main business bodies.

In his latest outburst, Mr Wilson said a previously good working relationship with Dublin has been “undone by the Brit-bashing taoiseach”.

The Fine Gael leader has been the target of verbal attacks from the DUP over recent months with Mr Wilson variously describing him as “despicable, low and rotten”, a “nutcase”, and having “lost any sense of self control” over Brexit.

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In April he said the openly gay taoiseach was “gaily” introducing new legislation for beer labelling.

Writing in the News Letter on Tuesday, Mr Wilson described business lobby groups backing the draft deal as “the puppets of the Northern Ireland Office”.

Representatives from up to a dozen business and farming lobby groups are due to travel to Downing Street on Thursday to meet Theresa May.

Dublin would not be drawn on the DUP MP’s remarks but said that throughout the negotiations the priority of the Irish government had been “to protect the peace process, the Good Friday agreement, citizens rights and the common travel area”.

Sammy Wilson criticised Leo Varadkar last month following remarks the taoiseach made about Brexit

These sentiments were echoed by SDLP leader Colum Eastwood who told The Irish News: “Maybe Sammy should take a step back and realise we can’t all be wrong.”

Alliance Brexit spokesman Stephen Farry said Mr Wilson and his DUP colleagues’ commentary showed “how desperate people are becoming in their arguments”.

The competing efforts to push through and derail the UK-EU Brexit deal look set to intensify over the coming days.

It emerged on Tuesday night that leading Brexiteer Boris Johnson will address the DUP conference in Belfast on Saturday and on Friday night Chancellor Philip Hammond, an advocate of what he terms the “compromise” draft deal, will address the party’s private dinner.

Jacob Rees-Mogg warned that the Tories would be stuck with Mrs May as leader for the next general election unless they move to get rid of her now. Amid signs that the attempt by Brexiteers to force a vote of confidence in the prime minister has stalled, the European Research Group chairman acknowledged that they were struggling to get the support they needed.

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