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DUP leader’s conference plea to PM

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DUP leader Arlene Foster will tell her party’s annual conference that the draft Brexit deal would leave the UK “a pitiful and pathetic place”.

With Boris Johnson in Belfast to support her stance, Mrs Foster is expected to say the Irish border backstop poses risk and will urge Theresa May to “bin the backstop”.

Extracts of her speech published ahead of the DUP’s annual conference focus on Brexit, the prospect of a better deal and her party’s agreement with the Tories at Westminster.



NEWRY, NORTHERN IRELAND - FEBRUARY 02: A bus crossing along the border between Northern and southern Ireland passes a sign campaigning against a so called hard Brexit, on February 2, 2017 in Newry, Northern Ireland.




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Mrs Foster will acknowledge the prime minister’s efforts and describe her as “genuine”, but she will conclude that the draft agreement “fails her own key commitments”.

“The prime minister has not been able to guarantee an outcome that eliminates the risk of the introduction of the so-called backstop arrangements,” she will say.

Theresa May and Arlene Foster
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Theresa May and Arlene Foster’s political relationship has been tense at times

Acknowledging support for the draft deal from the business community in Northern Ireland, Mrs Foster will say she understands the position of those who seek certainty.

She will say: “But… we cannot wish away the fact that the draft withdrawal agreement contains arrangements which are not in Northern Ireland’s long-term economic or strategic interests.

“The choice is not between this deal and ‘no-deal’, despite what the government spin machine may say.

“The reality is that if we are to secure a better outcome than is currently on offer, then the only option is to look beyond this current draft withdrawal agreement and work in the time ahead for an improved outcome.”








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On the issue of her party’s agreement with the minority Tory government at Westminster, Mrs Foster will say the DUP has been “indispensable” in securing a majority on Brexit votes.

“But of course the confidence and supply deal is a two-way street. The government’s commitments under it are clear, including on Brexit,” she will say.

“Commitments freely entered into must be delivered and if they are not, then clearly, as we have shown, there are consequences.

“Our agreement is of course with the Conservative Party.

“It is incumbent therefore on all Conservatives in parliament who recognise the importance of continuing stability and who wish to see the government deliver its agenda to ensure it is honoured in full.”



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Speaking to Sky News on the eve of her speech, Mrs Foster denied that her annual conference could signal the end of the deal at Westminster.

“We’re not seeing the end of the confidence and supply agreement…

“Obviously if the withdrawal agreement, and of course there’s no evidence to show this will happen, if it did go through parliament, then we would revisit the confidence and supply agreement, but we’re not there yet.”

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