A Northern Ireland-only backstop with Stormont being handed an opt-out vote has been branded a “non-runner” by the DUP.
Reports from Brussels suggest the EU could offer the arrangement as a way to break the Brexit impasse.
According to the Times, the EU may be willing to accept a Northern Ireland backstop – with the region remaining in the single market for goods and the customs union – and allow Stormont to vote after a set period on whether it wants to exit the mechanism.
Significantly, it was reported that any vote to leave the backstop would require the consent of both the nationalist and the unionist community in the region.
The DUP’s Brexit spokesman Sammy Wilson rejected the idea, claiming it would hand Sinn Fein a veto.
“This proposal by the European Union comes as no surprise,” he said.
“It has already been ruled out by the United Kingdom Government. Parliament has been clear that such proposals would never be approved. It is not a serious proposal and should not be treated as such. It is a non-runner.
“Whilst the United Kingdom Government has put forward sensible and realistic proposals, it is disappointing that the European Union has retreated to its previous failed plans.
“This proposal not only rewrites but actually turns the Belfast Agreement’s consent mechanism on its head.
“The United Kingdom must leave the European Union as one country and any decision to enter into regulatory alignment must have the consent of both unionists and nationalists.
“Any proposal which would see the imposition of customs duties for goods moving within the United Kingdom could never be accepted by any UK Government, Parliament or anyone interested in the economic wellbeing of Northern Ireland.
“This is worse than Mrs (Theresa) May’s deal which at least contained the pretence of these arrangements only being used as an insurance policy.
“This proposal confirms the intended permanency of keeping Northern Ireland in the EU and removing us from the United Kingdom.”