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DUP must reflect on its role in Brexit shambles

After yet another heavy defeat for Theresa May's withdrawal agreement, the British government has published the tariff arrangements likely to be imposed in the event of a no deal Brexit.

While the plans are said to be temporary, they have caused a deep sense of alarm in both Britain and Ireland with the CBI saying the new rates would hit UK business like a 'sledgehammer' and Simon Coveney warning of significant damage to the Republic's economy.

The British government said no import tariffs would be imposed on goods entering Northern Ireland from the Republic.

However, tariffs of up to 40 per cent are proposed for products exported from the Republic to Britain.

It is not just the farming community that is dismayed at the potential devastation that could be caused to the agriculture industry but businesses generally and consumers in particular will be concerned that food and other goods will be subject to price hikes.

Meanwhile the Freight Transport Association has warned the system as outlined would be open to abuse, saying the Northern Ireland border could become a Wild West-style smugglers' paradise.

Plainly, the government's plans would be unpalatable for any number of reasons, strengthening the case for a no deal to be avoided at all costs.

The fear is that the UK could find itself in that position by accident, due to the chaos that is currently reigning at Westminster.

Pressure is growing for a delay to the withdrawal date, with even hardline Brexiteers accepting that more time is needed.

The difficulty is that an extension to Article 50 has to be agreed by the EU which would need to be satisfied that a delay would serve some purpose.

The situation is obviously very serious and the DUP must reflect on its role in this shambolic process.

As former senior Tory Chris Patten has pointed out, the DUP's approach has damaged the union and aided the cause of Irish nationalism.

Even now, the party seems incapable of comprehending the disastrous implications of Brexit.

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