Northern Ireland news

Sammy Wilson says DUP 'does not seek second referendum'

Sammy Wilson of the DUP. Picture by Matt Bohill

THE DUP's Sammy Wilson has said his party "does not seek a second referendum" on Brexit.

The party supported the Letwin amendment on Saturday, two days after it rejected Boris Johnson's new EU withdrawal agreement over concerns about a border in the Irish Sea.

Mr Wilson said his party's votes "were significant" in passing the amendment, which withholds approval of the Brexit deal until the necessary laws to implement it are passed.

"It is far from the first time that DUP votes have been crucial on the issue of Brexit," he said.

"In nearly half of all votes on the issue in Parliament, it has been DUP MPs who have ensured progress continued to be made towards our exit from the EU.

"The DUP wants to get Brexit done but it must be a Brexit for the whole of the United Kingdom. Our position has been clear and it has been consistent.

"DUP MPs supported the Letwin amendment as the only avenue available to properly scrutinise the deal on offer and attempt to secure changes that could address some of the concerns we have.

"It was a situation that could have been easily avoided had the Prime Minister kept to words he penned to Jean-Claude Juncker just a matter of two weeks ago."

It has been speculated the DUP could go as far as supporting a second referendum and even backing remain to block Mr Johnson's plans.

In March DUP deputy leader and Westminster leader Nigel Dodds said he would “rather stay in the EU... rather than risk Northern Ireland's position” in the UK.

Mr Wilson, the DUP's Brexit spokesman, said yesterday: "The DUP does not seek a second referendum, merely implementation of the first."

He added: "The people of the United Kingdom were asked whether the UK should leave the EU, not whether Great Britain should leave Northern Ireland behind.

"We want to leave as one nation. That remains our goal.

"If the Prime Minister remains willing to achieve that outcome he will find DUP MPs as willing partners in that project."

Meanwhile, Labour has invited the DUP for talks about amending the prime minister's Brexit legislation.

Sir Keir Starmer said his party's "door is open" to the party.

However, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said the EU would not make more concessions to help the government win the DUP's support.

"The deal is done," told RTÉ.

Conservative MP Dominic Grieve said yesterday he had warned the DUP that Mr Johnson would change his position on Northern Ireland and Brexit.

"I predicted to them some months ago this was what was going to happen - I told them that Boris Johnson was going to betray them," he said.

Northern Ireland Office minister Robin Walker has said the government will continue to talk to the DUP and the independent unionist MP Lady Hermon about their concerns over the Brexit deal.

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