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DUP feeling the pressure over Brexit plan

There has been a distinct change in tone from Boris Johnson since he published his Brexit proposals, much more measured, emollient even, as he tries to win support for his plan.

His approach stands in sharp contrast to the DUP which lambasted the Irish government for comments that did not seem to justify such a furious response.

Clearly, the view of Dublin is regarded as crucial in determining the EU's stance and was awaited with particular interest.

And while Simon Coveney and Leo Varadkar both pointed out the obvious areas of concern, including customs checks and the unionist veto at Stormont, there was no outright rejection of the plan.

Indeed, the tánaiste said it represented 'progress' and could potentially be a 'stepping stone' towards resolution.

Arlene Foster described Mr Coveney's remarks as 'deeply unhelpful, obstructionist and intransigent' while Nigel Dodds accused the taoiseach and tánaiste of 'incendiary and outrageous comments' and a 'ramping up of rhetoric'.

While robust verbal exchanges are nothing new in political life - and the DUP is renowned for its aggressive approach - this over the top reaction would suggest the party is feeling the pressure.

It would certainly suit the DUP to deflect attention from its shift over a border in the Irish Sea but trying to blame Dublin for a Brexit debacle that was not of its making is hardly helpful.

The prime minister has decided to go on a charm offensive, something which does not come naturally to the DUP.

Nevertheless, the party would be better served trying to persuade sceptics of the merits of this proposal rather than 'ramping up the rhetoric'.

The fact remains that there are a number of difficulties with this plan and the DUP must recognise there are widespread concerns about some of the measures it contains.

Apart from the overwhelmingly negative reaction from other political parties in Northern Ireland, the plan has been roundly criticised by the business community, including an organisation headed by a former DUP finance minister.

Simon Hamilton, who is now chief executive of Belfast Chamber, expressed concern that the proposals 'run the risk of increasing the cost of doing business with the EU and seriously disrupt vital supply chains.'

The reality is that many people are worried about the future and the DUP and British government must listen to their concerns.

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