Northern Ireland

Brexit: DUP 'made mistake' over regulatory differences

Image of the Irish Sea on a map with a union jack and Euro flag Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Previously 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.

Image copyright Parliament
Image caption Raoul 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.

However, Mr Johnson later agreed a deal with the EU which will mean Northern Ireland diverging on regulations and customs without 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.

Image copyright PA
Image caption DUP 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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