Brexit news: Sinn Fein leader reveals way round Brexit backstop issue in Northern Ireland | UK | News

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Mary Lou McDonald argued it was necessary to protect Northern Ireland in a Brexit deal. She said an easy way around the conundrum is to keep Northern Ireland in the customs union and single market. Ms McDonald added there won’t be a hardening of the border on the island.

Speaking on Radio 4’s Today programme, Ms McDonald said: “The protections that are needed are necessary of course for the north of Ireland, for the economy and for the political structures there.

“But there are also protections that are necessary for the entire island.

“This is a national question for all of us that live in the island and the idea of placing a veto particularly in the hands of the DUP would be utterly reckless.

“I have put that position very clearly to the Prime Minister.”

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Ms McDonald was asked whether her discussion with Prime Minister Leo Varadkar included a Brexit solution.

She added: “I didn’t come away from the conversation with anything that would give me a final insight as to how the issue of customs is dealt with on the island.

“There has been an inherent contradiction at play all along saying on the one hand, yes there will be no hardening of the border.

“The Good Friday architecture will be respected and reserved and championed.

“But then on the other hand insisting against the democratic wishes in the north that they are forced out of the EU and out of the customs union and the single market.

“The easy way around the midterm conundrum for Ireland and for the north, in particular, is simply for the north of Ireland to stay in the customs union and single market.”

Her comments come after Mr Varadkar met with Prime Minister Boris Johnson last week and jointly said they were on the pathway to a deal.

In a joint statement released after more than two hours of intense talks, the pair admitted “challenges” remained over how to avoid customs checks at the border between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic but agreed to “reflect” on the way forward.

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Mr Varadkar insisted that, while differences over the Irish border row still needed to be resolved, he thought a “treaty” could be signed in time to allow the UK to quit the EU on October 31.

The statement said: “The Prime Minister and Irish premier have had a detailed and constructive discussion.

“Both continue to believe that a deal is in everybody’s interest. They agreed that they could see a pathway to a possible deal.

“Their discussion concentrated on the challenges of customs and consent. They also discussed the potential to strengthen bilateral relations, including on Northern Ireland.

“They agreed to reflect further on their discussions and that officials would continue to engage intensively on them.”

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