01/03/2018 The View


01/03/2018

Mark Carruthers and guests review the week's political events from Stormont and Westminster and follow the highs and lows of the political week.


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Transcript


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Another political week dominated

by Brexit and the potential

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consequences for the Irish border.

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So is there any way of bridging

the gap between Brussels

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and Downing Street?

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And where does all of that leave us?

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Welcome to The View.

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Tonight...

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The Brussels plan for Ireland, North

and South, may never materialise -

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but while it's the only show

in town, it's causing

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rows all over the place.

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I think some of the wilder claims

made by some people need to be

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reeled in. We need to get on with

the practical job of negotiating a

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trade deal between the UK and the

rest of the EU.

There has to be a

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solution that comes forward, and

there is nothing coming forward as

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far as I can see from the Unionists.

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Nigel Dodds and Emily Thornberry set

out their stalls and the DUP's

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deputy leader tells me "mistrust

and bad blood" make

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a return to devolution

unlikely in the short-term.

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And while Theresa May made it clear

she's opposed to a border

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in the middle of the Irish Sea,

what are the chances

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of building a bridge across it?

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I would hope that we would certainly

have the capability and the talent,

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the engineering and architectural

talent in both countries to do it.

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I would certainly hope

that we would have a building built,

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a bridge built by 2025.

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And dusting off their snow shoes -

tonight's commentators

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are Allison Morris and Sam McBride.

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"Time to come up with a better

idea" - the advice of

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the European Council President,

Donald Tusk, to Theresa May

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as the fall-out continues

after yesterday's publication

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of the EU's draft withdrawal treaty.

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The document runs to 120 pages -

but it's the proposals around

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the future of the border

here which have caused the uproar.

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I'll be getting two very different

political perspectives

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First from Emily Thornberry. First,

her thoughts on the draft EU treaty.

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Northern Ireland as part of the UK

and whatever agreement we have has

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to retain the integrity of Northern

Ireland as part of the UK, but we

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have to have a soft border between

the north than the South. That's

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what's important. The British

government agreed to that before

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Christmas. They said they would find

a way that we would have a soft

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border. They signed up to that. They

have since said we would be in the

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single market or the customs union

but they've not come forward with

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any other alternative proposals. So

the EU said, well, you agreed to a

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soft border. You haven't come up

with anything. All we've got is

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single market and customs union,

what have you got? You've got no

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proposals at all. So if you don't

want to have a border between North

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and South, are you talking about it

being in the middle of the sea?

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Obviously there is no way we would

agree to that. Of course we

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wouldn't. But the solution is in

front of their faces. We have to be

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in a customs union. We have been

thinking about this in the Labour

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Party long and hard for 21 months,

since the referendum. As far as we

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are concerned, there is no other

solution. There's no other solution

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in terms of looking after the

economy, in terms of maintaining

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jobs, and we have to be thinking

about that first and foremost and

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then also about peace Ireland.

The

Prime Minister dismissed any idea of

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the UK remaining in a customs union

with the EU, in equally strident

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terms to her dismissal of today's EU

proposals.

Well, she's wrong.

She's

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the Prime Minister.

She's still

wrong, and I didn't think the

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majority of the House of Commons

agrees with her. I think that she is

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being reckless. She being reckless,

she's playing with peace. She's

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playing with the Constitution of the

country. She's cutting off her nose

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to spite her face, she has to change

her mind.

How is she playing with

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peace?

Because the balance in

Ireland has been long negotiated.

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3000 people lost their lives. We

negotiated a balance between the

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Irish government and British

government, guarantees of a soft

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border, guarantees of peace, of a

future, etc. It is there and finely

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balanced. If they start behaving in

a way that will result in a hard

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border between Northern Ireland and

the rest of Ireland, that threatens

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peace. You know it does.

Who is

threatening to go back to war? It

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certainly upsets the balance of what

was agreed in the Good Friday

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Agreement, but it doesn't unlock the

door for people to go back to

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violence, does it?

What it does is

it ranks up the pressure and the

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tension. If we start having a hard

border then I think that's what it

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does, and the piece is so finely

balanced in Ireland, nobody can be

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complacent about this. The Good

Friday Agreement has held up across

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the world. I met the president of

Columbia and they said how much they

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had learned from the Good Friday

Agreement. It is an example of good

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practice. They are being so arrogant

in the way in which just because of

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their dogma, they are prepared to

risk it. You shouldn't be risking

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it.

Sammy Wilson accused the Labour

leadership of having supported Sinn

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Fein, which he alleges conducted a

campaign of genocide along the

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border. He argued IRA violence and

necessitated a hard border during

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the troubles. He said it is more

about under minding the EU

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referendum result than anything

else. Does he have a point?

I can't

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tell you how insulted I am by that.

I'm really insulted. I have Irish

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heritage too. I want a good future

for Northern Ireland within the UK.

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That's what I want, because that's

what the Northern Irish people want.

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But we have to find a peaceful way

forward which means we have to be

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pragmatic. What I would say to

Unionists in Northern Ireland is

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it's all very well for you to say

there mustn't be a border between

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Northern Ireland and the rest of the

UK, there mustn't be a border

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between Northern Ireland and the

rest of Ireland, and yet the UK can

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diverged, and yet the UK can develop

an economy in a different way to the

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rest of the EU, but there isn't

going to be a border. Nobody seems

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to be challenging them about the

illogicality of that. There has to

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be a solution and there is nothing

that is coming forward from the

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Unionists on this.

The Prime

Minister said today in the House of

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Commons there will be no hard border

between Northern Ireland and the

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Republic, no hard border between

Northern Ireland and Great Britain

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and no customs union between the UK

and EU.

It just doesn't work. What

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their alternative? Is it something

to do with unicorns? We've heard

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nothing and neither has the European

Union.

Theresa May is making a

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speech...

Lets sit here with open

ears. We've had so many speeches, so

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many papers but we've not had any

alternative. At some stage somebody

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is going to need to be grown-up

about this and face the facts.

Will

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we inevitably end up, if the UK

Government cannot produce an

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acceptable alternative, that we will

end up with the option C which is

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this common regulatory area for

Northern Ireland in the future. The

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Unionists don't like it but you'd

think that is what will happen?

What

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has happened is that in order to get

through Christmas, Theresa May

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signed a piece of paper, and on that

she said no hard border. She put

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forward a number of alternatives.

Two of them were extremely foggy,

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she hasn't fleshed them out with any

detail, and the third one is that

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eventually we stay in the EU in all

but words, we stay in the single

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market. All of the UK, not just

Northern Ireland, all of the UK

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stays in the single market and a

customs union. They don't want that,

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and I understand why they don't want

that, but they have to compromise.

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We are saying we must leave the EU

because that's what the referendum

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bill that, despite what the people

of Northern Ireland wanted which was

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to stay, but nevertheless we have to

find a way forward that keeps our

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country unified. That means keeping

Northern Ireland as part of the UK,

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that means pulling together the 48%

and the 52%. Which means we leave

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the EU but we don't have to go very

far, which means we can keep a soft

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border.

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We had a bit of a technical problem

in that interview with Emily

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Thornberry. That was the Shadow

Foreign Secretary talking to meet at

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her office in Westminster yesterday

afternoon. Not surprisingly, Nigel

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Dodds sees things differently. He

said he was amazed the EU could

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think the EU proposals would ever be

acceptable to his party. When I met

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up with him yesterday I suggested to

him that the EU proposals are only

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the legal version of what was

previously agreed to buy Theresa May

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in Brussels last December.

They are

not because they leave out the

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Article 50 stuff about guaranteeing

unfettered access for Northern

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Ireland. It takes the whole

interpretation of regulatory

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alignment much further across

greater areas than was imagined, and

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it doesn't deal in any regard with

options a and B because it is purely

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with the C. It doesn't reflect what

was agreed in December, and the

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Prime Minister made that very clear

in her excellent remarks at Prime

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Minister's Questions in which she

said no British Prime Minister could

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possibly accept such a paper.

Options A and B are the

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responsibility of the UK Government

and Michel Barnier said today we are

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happy to see them, but there doesn't

seem to be any great urgency to

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produce any.

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They would be better waiting

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They would be better waiting until

Friday, it is their decision to go

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ahead today and they are the ones

the EU has structured the

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negotiations to be getting to the

progress report and having that the

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month it was elation on transition

arrangements and then trade talks

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and in our view and the British

government's you is what should have

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happened as everything was on the

table from the first day, start

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negotiating the most important part,

the trade deal, option A, so it is

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rich for the EU to criticise people

when they are the ones who insisted

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on this structure.

When it comes to

Friday's much anticipated speech by

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the Prime Minister, do you think she

will clear up a lot of the confusion

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that seems to be around today?

She

will set out the UK's negotiating

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position in terms of the overall

trade deal, she will reiterate the

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commitment to the agreement in

December and she will also reiterate

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what she said in terms of the

Commons at Prime Minister 's

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questions, which is that no British

prime ministers could possibly

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accede to anything that would break

up the Common Market and the UK, the

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single market, no customs border

down the Irish Sea. And no British

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Prime Minister would accede to the

EU draft text, which would break up

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the UK constitutionally.

I think

that will be very welcome. Michel

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Barnier has made it clear he has no

intention of that, he does not want

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to get involved in the internal

politics of the UK anti-respects

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because additional integrity of the

UK. He said that very clearly today

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without any ambiguity.

I welcome

what he says but as we have always

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proved, the proof is in the text and

especially the legal text and what

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that spells out, it does not refer

at all to the important links

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between Northern Ireland and the UK,

it does not reflect that and it

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paints a scenario whereby there

would be this common regulatory

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space weather Union of which

Northern Ireland would be part,

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regardless of the rest of the UK,

and that would politically cut us

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from the rest of the UK, which as

Theresa May has said, no British

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prime ministers will accept. Would

it really do that? Of course, what

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we would have ears, 75% of our sales

out of Northern Ireland goes to the

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UK market or the rest of the world,

what they would be doing is creating

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this incredible regulatory barrier,

customs barrier, between Northern

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Ireland and the rest of the UK,

where most of the sales go. It would

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be economic catastrophe for

businesses, communities in Northern

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Ireland, deeply damaging to everyone

and that is one reason why I believe

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puzzled at the attitude of the Irish

government because it is not in

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their interests to create barriers

between Ireland and Great Britain

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because most of their trade goes

into Great Britain yet they pursue

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this policy. It seems for purely

political reasons. When all of us

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and certainly they should be

concentrating on trying to get a

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trade deal which would ensure that

business continues between Northern

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Ireland, the Irish Republic and the

rest of the EU. That is where the

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focus should be.

Michel Barnier said

that if Northern Ireland ends up as

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a common regulatory area, it would

not be a hard border, that would

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exist between Northern Ireland and

the rest of the UK. It would be a

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series of checks at ports and

airports, he said that it's a lot

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easier than to police it, at 310

mile long land border. A hard border

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between Northern Ireland and the

republic.

They are not the same.

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Even he is admitting that there

would be barriers and the EU

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position and others who say they do

not want any hard border is there

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can be no infrastructure along the

border and we agree with that. We

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think it can be done without any of

that. As a government put forward in

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the August paper. What concerns us

is this approach by the EU and

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others who support it, it falls

under the glaring weight of its own

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inconsistencies. They told us they

don't want a border between Northern

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Ireland and the Irish Republic but

this would have the effect of

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creating, even with regulatory

checks, infrastructure and barriers,

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never mind the regulatory changes

which would be a barrier to trade.

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And people are using the Belfast

agreement, the need to have a

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frictionless border, even the piece,

and I have said this in the Commons,

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using this in quite disgraceful and

reckless way in to project their own

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version of Brexit or even to thwart

Brexit. Who is going to go back to

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violence? Who is suggesting there

should be a hard border? Nobody. Who

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is suggesting that we should abandon

good cross-border trade? Nobody.

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Some of the wilder claims made by

some people need to be reined in and

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we should get on with the practical

job of negotiating an overall trade

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deal between the UK and the rest of

the EU.

Let us look at what the

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Prime Minister said, you welcomed

the commitments. No hard border

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between Northern Ireland and the

Republic. No hard border between

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Northern Ireland and Great Britain.

No Customs Union between the UK and

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EU you welcome that. Those three

things cannot all be true, you

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cannot deliver on those three

commitments at the same time.

They

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are contradictory. They are not. If

you were the government paper, and

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lots of people are talking about the

border, I will not include you, but

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a lot of people on this side of the

water talk about this and they have

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never been to Northern Ireland, they

never read the paper in August and

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they have not talked, as I have, in

Stockholm, to the person who drafted

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the report for the parliament,

saying this can be done. You can

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have frictionless trade north and

south, frictionless trade East and

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West, and you can have a customs

arrangement, which is what the Prime

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Minister has talked about, our

partnership without being part of

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the Customs Union. The trouble with

being part of the Customs Union is

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you end up having to accept whatever

deals the EU does in its interests

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without any say as the UK and

whether it is in your interests or

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not. It would be a mad situation. We

need to be free to negotiate our own

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arrangements that sensible

convergence in areas where it makes

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sense.

What do you say to those

representatives of the agriculture

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and food sector and business

sectors, North and south and here in

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Great Britain as well, who have

serious reservations about the UK

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and Northern Ireland leaving the

Customs Union and the single market?

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Most people in the farming community

voted for Brexit and still hold to

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that position. There are sectors of

agriculture who have told us that

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actually, if we ended up with a hard

Brexit, nobody wants that, but they

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would replace goods coming in at the

moment so they would probably

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thrive. Other sectors could see

damage done and we have been

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speaking to Michael Gove about

managing that but nobody wants to

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get to a hard Brexit.

One final

question about the talks. To what

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extent do you think you are

optimistic that the Stormont talks

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process can be up and running again

any time soon?

In the short-term we

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are badly in need of some

decision-making in Northern Ireland,

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you hear that from the civil

service, budgets need to be set and

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decisions taken in the interests of

everybody. Whoever. That needs to

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happen. Without prejudice to train

to get devolution back and a role

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for the Assembly if necessary for

that local input. Do I see

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devolution in the short-term? No.

There is a lot of this -- mistrust

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and bad blood. A lot of things that

Sinn Fein have done which has

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concerned and angered people in the

unionist community. And I think

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there isn't a balanced package on

offer so I think we do need to get

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back to devolution but if you ask me

will it happen in the short term, I

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don't think it is but that is

without prejudice to making it

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happen in the medium and long term.

The website that published the draft

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text and in a subsequent article in

question was posed... The first

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opportunity to ask this question...

Did Arlene Foster personally hand a

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hard copy of that 13 page iteration

of the draft agreement to Michelle

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O'Neill at 6:30pm on Friday the 9th

of February?

That is news to me. I

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will not get into answering

questions of that nature but I think

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that is news to me.

I have no

knowledge of that. That has been in

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the public domain for some time.

I

don't think that is right. Might

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that we the case? We can speculate.

You are getting into the territory

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of speculation upon speculation. I

am not going to get into that. Our

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party has acted perfectly correctly

in how it has handled all of this

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and we have taken a decision. Which

is that in the meantime, until we

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get devolution running on a fair

way, decisions have to be taken at

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Westminster and we need to do the

budget and get on and have

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government decisions made.

That is

what everybody needs. You don't know

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if she handed the document?

If she

did... If I had any knowledge... I

0:21:060:21:14

would be highly surprised, that is

speculation upon speculation, like

0:21:140:21:18

me speculating on what you did on

Tuesday. I have no knowledge. I

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cannot...

I cannot comment. If she

did hand that document over, it

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would suggest she had some ownership

of it and that document clearly

0:21:330:21:39

suggests signing at Irish Language

Act...

Can we stop being silly about

0:21:390:21:44

all of this. Stop this nonsense. The

reality is... Arlene Foster and

0:21:440:21:52

nobody in the DUP put forward for

any kind of agreement the Irish

0:21:520:21:58

language suggestions in any text

because it was not agreed by her, by

0:21:580:22:03

the party or anything else. That is

the bottom line.

0:22:030:22:06

Nigel Dodds talking to me

at Westminster yesterday.

0:22:060:22:08

Now, while some politicians have

been quick to knock back any

0:22:080:22:11

prospect of a post-Brexit border

in the Irish Sea,

0:22:110:22:13

what about the argument

for building a bridge across it?

0:22:130:22:16

The Scottish Government has told

this programme it's ready to begin

0:22:160:22:18

discussions with officials here,

and in Dublin, about the possibility

0:22:180:22:21

of making it happen.

0:22:210:22:23

The DUP and the SNP say the idea

of a fixed link should be explored -

0:22:230:22:27

but not everyone's convinced,

as Stephen Walker's

0:22:270:22:28

been finding out.

0:22:280:22:35

It is a short ferry crossing

to Scotland and if there

0:22:410:22:45

was a bridge it would be

an even shorter drive.

0:22:450:22:49

The suggestion of a link

between Northern Ireland

0:22:490:22:52

and the West of Scotland is not new,

but the idea is now gaining interest

0:22:520:22:56

on both sides of the water.

0:22:560:22:58

In a post-Brexit world,

would it help to bring economies

0:22:580:23:02

together and could it boost

trade and tourism?

0:23:020:23:05

Or is this an expensive folly

we simply cannot afford?

0:23:050:23:10

The idea of connecting

with our Scottish neighbours has

0:23:100:23:12

been around for over 130 years.

0:23:120:23:17

These plans from the 1800s

show tunnels stretching

0:23:170:23:20

from Counties Down and Antrim

to the West of Scotland.

0:23:200:23:23

The idea for a bridge

or a tunnel was contained

0:23:230:23:27

in the 2015 DUP manifesto.

0:23:270:23:30

So where could a bridge be built?

0:23:300:23:33

The shortest crossing

point is 12 miles from

0:23:330:23:36

the coast of County Antrim.

0:23:360:23:39

The best route seems to be

from the Mull of Kintyre

0:23:390:23:41

to the Antrim coast.

0:23:410:23:43

The difficulty with that in the past

has been getting from the Mull

0:23:430:23:46

of Kintyre to the Glasgow central

belt and to the central

0:23:460:23:49

belt of Scotland.

0:23:490:23:51

There are now achievable ways

of actually doing that.

0:23:510:23:54

So I think that the best route,

potentially as far as the simplest

0:23:540:23:58

connection and the least expensive

connection, would be from the Antrim

0:23:580:24:01

coast to the Mull of Kintyre.

0:24:010:24:03

A bridge stretching

from Larne to Portpatrick

0:24:030:24:06

is another possibility.

0:24:060:24:08

And there is another suggestion that

would link Bangor to Portpatrick.

0:24:080:24:12

In Dublin recently,

Scotland's Brexit Minister said

0:24:120:24:14

the idea was worth exploring.

0:24:140:24:18

I think it's a great idea.

0:24:180:24:19

It would open up my

constituency, that's the route

0:24:190:24:21

I would like to see.

0:24:210:24:23

But there's a lot of talking

to be done about that.

0:24:230:24:25

But I think it would be important

that talking starts on that.

0:24:250:24:28

Recent coverage indicates that

that's something that should happen.

0:24:280:24:31

As the local MSP I would

definitely support that.

0:24:310:24:33

Others agree this idea

needs to be explored.

0:24:330:24:38

We have got the most expensive

stretch of water for ships

0:24:380:24:41

and ferries to cross and sometimes

it is disrupted by bad

0:24:410:24:44

weather, etcetera.

0:24:440:24:46

One of the suggestions we made

was if you are going to go

0:24:460:24:49

for blue sky thinking,

huge infrastructure projects,

0:24:490:24:52

why not look at the 22 miles

between Northern Ireland

0:24:520:24:56

and Scotland and build a bridge

which would make travel less

0:24:560:24:59

expensive and probably more certain.

0:24:590:25:00

Sammy Wilson accepts that cost

could determine the feasibility.

0:25:000:25:03

To some, the construction fees

are too prohibitive.

0:25:030:25:08

Some people put a conservative

estimate at £20 billion.

0:25:080:25:11

At a time when our local

infrastructure in Northern

0:25:110:25:13

Ireland is struggling.

0:25:130:25:14

We have flagship projects

where we are struggling to get

0:25:140:25:17

the capital money to build those

and also our roads

0:25:170:25:19

and maintenance budget.

0:25:190:25:20

We simply don't have the money

to retain what we already have.

0:25:200:25:23

So to build a bridge

at this cost would be seen

0:25:230:25:26

as a vanity project by some.

0:25:260:25:28

So is this a price we

simply can't afford?

0:25:280:25:35

But the question is, will it pay

for itself over years now?

0:25:350:25:37

To have a capital investment

like that we are going

0:25:370:25:40

to create more jobs.

0:25:400:25:41

Northern Ireland could be

doing with more jobs.

0:25:410:25:43

We could upskill our workforce more

around the construction piece

0:25:430:25:45

so it is a good investment for both

Northern Ireland and Scotland.

0:25:450:25:49

If a bridge was proposed a proper

cost benefit analysis

0:25:490:25:51

would have to be carried out.

0:25:510:25:54

Something that the Scottish

Government have recognised.

0:25:540:25:57

But is there enough trade to justify

such a large investment?

0:26:260:26:33

Currently there is about 400,000

lorries would transit

0:26:330:26:35

the North Channel to Cairnryan

from Northern Ireland annually.

0:26:350:26:37

What proportion of that vehicle

traffic would use the bridge?

0:26:370:26:40

And obviously toll fees have

been included as well.

0:26:400:26:42

So would it be financially

viable to make the switch

0:26:420:26:45

from ferry to bridge?

0:26:450:26:46

To some, the bridge is more

than simply a structure.

0:26:460:26:49

The fact that you can go from Dublin

to Belfast to Glasgow to Edinburgh

0:26:490:26:53

in a number of hours and you can

jump on a train as well

0:26:530:26:56

if you have a bridge,

a suitable bridge, then

0:26:560:26:59

it is fantastic from

an infrastructure point of view

0:26:590:27:01

and also for the connectivity.

0:27:010:27:03

Building a bridge would require

consultation with local communities

0:27:030:27:06

and would raise fundamental

questions of where and how it

0:27:060:27:09

could be constructed.

0:27:090:27:11

Questions that others

across the globe have had to answer.

0:27:110:27:15

In China the world's longest sea

bridge has just been completed.

0:27:150:27:20

They built their sea bridge,

which is 34 miles long,

0:27:200:27:22

in six years from start to finish.

0:27:220:27:25

I would hope that we would certainly

have the capability and the talent,

0:27:250:27:29

the engineering and architectural

talent in both countries to do it.

0:27:290:27:32

I would certainly hope

that we would have a building built,

0:27:320:27:36

a bridge built by 2025

would certainly be within

0:27:360:27:38

the realms of possibility.

0:27:380:27:40

So a bridge for 2025

would be my catchphrase for this.

0:27:400:27:43

Vanity project or wise investment?

0:27:430:27:48

A bridge divides opinion and raises

political and economic questions.

0:27:480:27:51

Just as the original plans did

nearly 150 years ago.

0:27:510:27:59

Stephen Walker reporting.

0:27:590:28:01

Let's hear from tonight's

commentators - Sam McBride

0:28:010:28:03

from The News Letter

and Allison Morris

0:28:030:28:05

from The Irish News.

0:28:050:28:09

They've been joined by our own

political editor Mark Devonport.

0:28:090:28:14

Let's go back to Brexit which is

where we started. We heard from

0:28:140:28:19

Emily Thornberry and Nigel Dodds,

very different views on the draft

0:28:190:28:21

treaty. Now just to move things on

we've got a sense of what Theresa

0:28:210:28:26

May is going to say in her Mansion

house speech tomorrow, where does

0:28:260:28:31

that leave us?

Downing Street has

briefed some broad principles that

0:28:310:28:34

Theresa May will set out in this

speech. It gives us a sense of the

0:28:340:28:41

broad principles she will look

towards. She says any kind of plan

0:28:410:28:46

in the future must respect the

result of the referendum. That's a

0:28:460:28:50

reason why the government has ruled

out staying in the customs union and

0:28:500:28:54

the single market. They say it must

be an enduring agreement, but it

0:28:540:28:59

must protect jobs and security.

Lastly, they talk about it bringing

0:28:590:29:05

the country back together, which is

obviously in general terms trying to

0:29:050:29:10

bring remain and leave together

which is still a bit of a fond hope

0:29:100:29:14

at the moment. She also talks about

representing all of the UK in this.

0:29:140:29:20

Very broad brush staff and not the

kind of granular detail that we got

0:29:200:29:25

from the EU earlier in the week in

relation to their fallback option.

0:29:250:29:30

We heard Donald Tusk the president

of the European Council met Theresa

0:29:300:29:33

May today and said if you don't like

what's on the table at the moment

0:29:330:29:37

it's time to come up with a better

idea. You've looked at the briefing

0:29:370:29:40

as well, is the better idea in there

so far as you can see?

There's

0:29:400:29:46

nothing in this, it is a lot of

waffle about bringing people

0:29:460:29:51

together, getting an open trade deal

is possible. You can't leave the

0:29:510:29:56

customs union and then have a free

trade deal and a frictionless

0:29:560:30:00

border. There's no mention of

Northern Ireland. I knows these were

0:30:000:30:07

only briefing notes but there's no

mention of the border at all. At

0:30:070:30:11

this point we had them did missing

what was put forward as a suggestion

0:30:110:30:16

by the agreed European Union -- we

heard them dismissing but was put

0:30:160:30:23

forward.

Nigel Dodds very robust in

his defence of the view that it is

0:30:230:30:27

possible to square the circle,

leaving the customs union and not

0:30:270:30:31

having a hard border, east-west or

north-south.

He does say that is

0:30:310:30:39

possible and that is consistent with

a party that argued for Brexit and

0:30:390:30:43

for a fairly robust Brexit, making a

clean break and striking trade deals

0:30:430:30:48

and all of that sort of rhetoric

from the ardent Brexiteers. One of

0:30:480:30:52

the interesting thing is the EU did

is that it could either push the DUP

0:30:520:30:57

in one of two directions. It could

push it towards trying to keep the

0:30:570:31:00

whole UK in the customs union and

watered-down Brexit, it doesn't seem

0:31:000:31:05

to be when Nigel Dodds is going with

this. Or it could push them in a

0:31:050:31:12

very different direction, where they

say no deal is better for unionism

0:31:120:31:21

even if economically it's

problematic. That isn't something

0:31:210:31:24

the DUP is saying at this point but

if we get to the final stage of this

0:31:240:31:28

and Theresa May can't come up with

something more palatable, it's a big

0:31:280:31:32

choice for Arlene Foster and Nigel

Dodds.

Let's remind ourselves, the

0:31:320:31:38

Westminster arithmetic is critical

in this. The DUP has a clear

0:31:380:31:42

position. Nidal -- Nigel Dodds came

out firmly in support of what

0:31:420:31:49

Theresa May said yesterday. There

are people who will say at the end

0:31:490:31:54

of the day the DUP voice is

significant because the DUP tail is

0:31:540:31:58

wagging the conservative dog.

Theresa May is in hock to Arlene

0:31:580:32:02

Foster and Nigel Dodds.

Theresa May

obviously needs DUP votes to stay in

0:32:020:32:07

power but she is subject to force is

coming in different directions.

0:32:070:32:10

She's got the DUP insistent and hard

Brexiteers insistent that she can't

0:32:100:32:16

but on the customs union. But she

has the moderate remain weighing in

0:32:160:32:23

the Tory party joining together

potentially with Labour in backing

0:32:230:32:27

an amendment that would push some

kind of customs union. That leaves

0:32:270:32:32

her in a difficult position. One of

the particular conundrum is that

0:32:320:32:36

faces her if she sees the solution

being the negotiation of this

0:32:360:32:40

all-encompassing trade agreement

which is effectively going to make

0:32:400:32:43

the problems of the border go away.

The EU went discussed that until she

0:32:430:32:48

is signed up to the terms of a

transition plan. Part of the terms

0:32:480:32:53

put on the table is what we've seen

which is totally unacceptable to the

0:32:530:32:58

DUP. How does she get to this heaven

of the great trade agreement that

0:32:580:33:03

will make everything go away,

without signing up to something that

0:33:030:33:06

is unpalatable and may be impossible

for her supporters?

What about the

0:33:060:33:14

other issue I talked to Nigel Dodds

about, the possibility of getting

0:33:140:33:18

Stormont talks back up and running.

He said Mr stand-by blood makes it

0:33:180:33:22

unlikely in the short-term. I asked

the question about whether or not

0:33:220:33:26

Foster might have handed a hard copy

of the leaked document to Michelle

0:33:260:33:33

O'Neill a couple of Fridays ago.

It

has followed the pattern we've seen

0:33:330:33:37

from senior DUP members in the last

two weeks since news of this draft

0:33:370:33:42

leaked. He was comfortable speaking

about Brexit and then you saw the

0:33:420:33:45

body language change and he became

defensive when you mentioned the

0:33:450:33:50

draft deal. Whether he didn't know,

whether he wasn't sure, and that

0:33:500:33:53

would show what most people have

speculated which is that there was a

0:33:530:33:59

negotiation within the DUP.

He was

an important part of that

0:33:590:34:05

negotiating team.

We know that he

said on this programme that he had

0:34:050:34:14

constructed the draft deal. Nigel

Dodds was rattled by that. If that

0:34:140:34:18

was the case it blows out of the

water this message on the Irish

0:34:180:34:26

language act.

He was deeply

unconvincing and evasive. He had an

0:34:260:34:31

opportunity to say this is simply

nonsense, it didn't happen. It's

0:34:310:34:37

quite telling. He said I'm not aware

of it, he didn't say it didn't

0:34:370:34:41

happen.

You caught that bit at the

end as well, does it move that

0:34:410:34:47

debate on as to whether or not the

DUP was preparing to do a deal on

0:34:470:34:52

the Irish language and now says it

isn't?

The DUP commentary around

0:34:520:34:58

this has been rather unconvincing

and Nigel Dodds' performance in

0:34:580:35:02

relation to those questions was a

bit unconvincing in terms of the

0:35:020:35:06

body language. It should also be

seen in the context of publishing

0:35:060:35:11

the header of an e-mail to light

which contained the subject line

0:35:110:35:16

draft agreement text. It was an

e-mail from Simon Hamilton. One

0:35:160:35:23

remembers the DUP was saying there

was no such thing as a draft

0:35:230:35:27

agreement. There seem to be e-mails

headed "Draft agreement text" which

0:35:270:35:33

again causes you to ask questions

about what was going on.

No sign of

0:35:330:35:38

devolution any time soon?

It doesn't

appear Nigel Dodds is expecting it

0:35:380:35:43

any time soon. Very hard for them to

get their act together I would have

0:35:430:35:47

thought in the coming months.

Thank

you.

0:35:470:35:50

That's it from The View

for this week.

0:35:500:35:52

Join me for Sunday Politics

at 11:35am here on BBC One.

0:35:520:35:55

But before we go, we thought we'd

share this little insight from one

0:35:550:35:58

of our MPs that popped up

on social media today.

0:35:580:36:00

It just...reminded us of someone.

0:36:000:36:02

Goodnight!

0:36:020:36:04

Hello, welcome to room 65 in the

upper committee corridor of

0:36:040:36:07

Parliament.

0:36:070:36:15

THE OFFICE THEME MUSIC.

0:36:350:36:43

Join Mark Carruthers and guests on Thursdays for The View - the week's political news, comments and expert analysis. The View reports events at Stormont and Westminster and how they are affecting issues such as health and the economy. It follows the ups and downs of the political parties and debates the highs and lows of the political week. It also has an alternative view on the week's political headlines.


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