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Brexit: DUP's Ian Paisley and Sammy Wilson 'no surrender' call criticised

DUP MP Ian Paisley speaking yesterday at Westminster
Brendan Hughes

THE DUP's Ian Paisley and Sammy Wilson have been criticised for urging the British government to take a "no surrender" attitude to the European Union in Brexit talks.

Their remarks came as MPs pressed British government ministers on Brexit and how the Irish border issue would be addressed.

Speaking in the Commons, Mr Paisley accused the EU of trying to blackmail and bully the UK.

The North Antrim MP said: "Does the minister agree with me that it's about time the government demonstrated a no surrender attitude to the EU bureaucrats, who try to blackmail us, bully us, over air flights, passenger duty and everything else.

"Stand up to them man, and stand up to the EU and let's get on with leaving the EU."

Shailesh Vara, a minister in the Northern Ireland Office, replied: "The prime minister will stand up to anyone and everyone when it comes to maintaining the best interests of the United Kingdom."

Earlier, East Antrim MP Sammy Wilson said the "gloves are off" in Brexit negotiations.

"The blackmailing burghers from Brussels and the cheap political opportunists in Dublin must meet a tough UK government response," he wrote on Twitter.

"In these negotiations, if the gloves are off, it is time we went into the fray with a no surrender attitude."

In a Northern Ireland context, "no surrender" echoes the firebrand style of former DUP leader and founder the Rev Ian Paisley, but the term has also been associated loyalist paramilitaries, and more recently rhetoric during loyalist flag protests.

The SDLP's Claire Hanna, the party's Brexit spokesperson, hit out at the DUP MPs' remarks.

"The unionist mantra of 'no surrender' belongs in the past. For a party that professes to want to restore power-sharing here, this language is sending the opposite signal," she said.

The South Belfast MLA added: "People here are deeply frustrated and worried about their futures, particularly the business community yet the DUP at every opportunity fail to squeeze any clarity out of the British government.

"The truth is that is because the DUP have no idea how to stop a hard border in Ireland – so they rely on slogans and soundbites to cover for their utter failure to stand up for the wishes and the interests of the people in the north."

Alliance deputy leader Stephen Farry said: "Sadly, the extreme rhetoric from ideological Brexiteers appears to be worsening as the hard reality of Brexit becomes ever clearer.

DUP MP Ian Paisley speaking yesterday at Westminster

"The short-sighted Tories and DUP MPs are presiding over the erosion of our economy and the cohesion of our society."

Meanwhile, unionists have rejected the idea of people in Northern Ireland still being able to vote in European Parliament elections after Brexit.

Sinn Féin and SDLP have both said they will seek to ensure Irish citizens living in the north will continue to be represented in the European Parliament.

Yesterday Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson urged the south's government to push for northern representation.

However, DUP MEP Diane Dodds said: "That people living in Northern Ireland have a right to Irish citizenship and therefore EU citizenship is effectively a statement of fact, but to infer that this confers voting rights is a political stunt, with no basis in law or reality."

Ulster Unionist MEP Jim Nicholson claimed the Republic being given extra European Parliament seats to represent Northern Ireland would "violate the Belfast Agreement and the principle of consent".

DUP MP Ian Paisley speaking yesterday at Westminster

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