Brexit

Video: Ian Paisley's shout of 'no surrender' to the EU branded 'insulting'

DUP MP Ian Paisley Jr. Picture by Matt Bohill, Pacemaker

Ian Paisley called for “no surrender” to the EU in the House of Commons today, as he accused the bloc of trying to blackmail and bully Britain.

A regular cry during The Troubles from his late father Ian Paisley snr,  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?"

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

Minister Shailesh Vara replied: "The Prime Minister will stand up to anyone and everyone when it comes to maintaining the best interests of the United Kingdom."

His comments came as MPs pressed Northern Ireland ministers for further details about Brexit and how the Irish border issue will be addressed.

Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley and Mr Vara reiterated the UK's commitment to maintain a frictionless border, without undermining the integrity of the UK.

SDLP Brexit Spokesperson Claire Hanna said the “unionist mantra” belonged in the past. 

“I would like to say that I am shocked by the behaviour of the DUP MP in the House of Commons today, but I can’t. This is a typical headline grabbing stunt by Ian Paisley, seeking only to move the spotlight that is firmly on restoring talks here in Northern Ireland back onto him and his colleagues in London.

She added: “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.

“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."

There was further criticism of the EU and Irish ministers by DUP MPs during Northern Ireland questions.

Jim Shannon (Strangford) urged trading with Ireland to continue "unhindered by petty point scoring, statement making, headline grabbing whims of EU leadership".

Sammy Wilson (East Antrim) raised concerns about "the frictions in relationships between the UK Government and the Irish Republic".

He added: "What comment has he got to make about the threat issued by the foreign minister yesterday, that he will block negotiations if he does not get the legislation produced to force the Northern Ireland assembly to introduce EU regulations."

Mr Vara said the Brexit tales would be difficult but all parties were committed to being flexible and coming up with solutions.

Elsewhere, shadow Northern Ireland minister Stephen Pound asked whether an electronic border between the Republic and Northern Ireland was "feasible or is it just a fantasy".

Ms Bradley said: "We are determined there will be no new physical infrastructure at the border and we will maintain things like the Common Travel Area, which has been in existence since well before the EU."

SNP spokeswoman Deidre Brock questioned if Britain leaving the customs union would mean a divergence of regulations between Ireland and Northern Ireland.

"Will she tell us what, and I quote, specific solutions to address the unique circumstances of the island of Ireland she is proposing," she added.

Ms Bradley said: "There are unique circumstances in Northern Ireland, unique to anywhere across the whole of Europe, and those unique circumstances have to be reflected.

"The UK Government's intention is that we resolve the matter of north-south trade and east-west through the overall UK EU agreement.

"But we are absolutely determined to make sure that we respect the integrity of the north-south border and that we respect the agreements that were made in Belfast nearly 20 years ago."

Mr Vara added: "Let's be absolutely clear. We have said that we will be leaving the customs union and we will be leaving the single market as well.

"What we hope to do is, in phase two, engage in those negotiations to make sure that we have the best possible trade deal that we possibly can have with the European Union, but we are committed to having a frictionless border."

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