Brexit: DUP 'made mistake' over regulatory differences

By John Campbell
BBC News NI Economics & Business Editor

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image captionPreviously DUP representatives ruled out any economic border down the middle of the Irish Sea

A former government Brexit advisor has suggested the DUP made a mistake by accepting there could be regulatory differences between NI and the rest of the UK.

Raoul Ruparel, who advised Theresa May, was giving evidence to a Commons committee on Wednesday.

He said one of the reasons Boris Johnson got a deal with the European Union was due to the DUP's move.

But added "that maybe wasn't the right choice" for the DUP.

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image captionRaoul Ruparel was giving evidence to a Commons committee on Wednesday

The DUP supported Boris Johnson's original offer to the EU which would have meant Northern Ireland diverging from the UK on some regulations, but only with a unionist veto.

The DUP have been strongly critical of that deal.

Mr Ruparel said the DUP's decision in September to accept the principle of divergence gave Mr Johnson more "leeway" in his negotiations with the EU.

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image captionDUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds has previously said any divergence from the UK would be catastrophic for NI

He said that at the time Theresa May was negotiating with the EU, the DUP were "not willing" to allow the government to move in that direction.

"They had previously been opposed to any sort of regulatory differentiation," he told the committee.

He added that the end result of that "significant change" was "obviously not something the DUP ended up agreeing with".

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