David Trimble among Brexiteers who meet EU negotiator

David Trimble, Owen Paterson and Iain Duncan Smith speaking after meeting Michel Barnier

A GROUP including former First Minister David Trimble has denied undermining Theresa May by travelling to meet the EU's chief negotiator to push their Irish border plan.

Former ministers Iain Duncan Smith and Owen Paterson, a one-time Secretary of State, met Michel Barnier in Brussels yesterday.

The delegation from the pro-Brexit European Research Group (ERG), included Lord Trimble who joined the Conservative Party in 2007.

He has warned previously that any attempt to resolve the border issue after Brexit by weakening Northern Ireland’s place in the UK would provoke a strong backlash from unionists.

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It is understood the group presented proposals for avoiding a hard border, but without tying the UK closely to the EU's single market or customs union. That plan was dismissed as "dreamland stuff" by the Republic's government when first published in September.

Afterwards, the three were asked if they were undermining Mrs May.

Mr Duncan Smith said that they were "presenting some ideas" from a paper.

"The government negotiates, we're just here to present a paper - which we did - and have a constructive discussion - which we had - and we're now going back and we'll talk to the government about it," he said.

Mr Paterson suggested that the discussions involved the issue of how to resolve the border question.

"We believe that using existing techniques, existing processes and all within existing EU law we can continue to trade pretty well seamlessly across all borders without damaging the integrity of European customs union and single market, which is obviously fundamental for them," he said.

"We had a long and constructive meeting with Mr Barnier and his staff and we are now going to go back and report in detail to our colleagues."

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