The DUP has dismissed as “nonsense” claims it is ready to accept that Northern Ireland will have to abide by some EU rules after Brexit.
The Times of London reports that the party will drop its objection to regulatory checks in the Irish Sea if Brussels does not insist on the North remaining in a customs union with the EU.
According to the report, Europe would instead be asked to agree to fast-track any “alternative arrangements” to ensure there would be no need for border infrastructure to inspect goods.
DUP leader Arlene Foster has described the story as “nonsense” – and warned that her party would not accept any deal that creates a barrier to trade from Britain into the North.
On Newstalk Breakfast this morning, DUP Brexit spokesperson Sammy Wilson said the party will continue to say no to the backstop.
“The story is nonsense,” he said.
“I don’t know where it came from; it certainly was never confirmed with anyone in our party.
“It goes contrary to everything that first-of-all, we have ever said on the issue. It goes contrary to the discussions that Arlene Foster and Nigel Dodds had with Boris Johnson had with Boris Johnson this week.”
Also on Newstalk, the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said the current Brexit impasse is “very worrying” but insisted he is not losing any sleep just yet.
— NewstalkFM (@NewstalkFM) September 13, 2019
In the UK meanwhile, the House of Commons speaker John Bercow said Prime Minister Boris Johnson would be acting like a "bank robber" if he ignored legislation obliging him to seek a Brexit extension.
Under new laws, passed last week, Mr Johnson will have to apply for an extension if he has not struck a deal by October 19th.
Mr Johnson has said he would “rather be dead in a ditch” than seek an extension and there has been some speculation that he will simply ignore the law.
Speaking last night, Mr Bercow said that idea was a “non-starter; period.”
“It is astonishing that anyone has even entertained the notion,” he said.
“One should no more refuse to request an extension to Article 50 because of what one might regard as the noble end of departing from the EU as soon as possible, than one could possibly excuse robbing a bank on the basis that the cash stolen would be donated to a charitable cause immediately afterwards.
“We should not be in this linguistic territory.”
He said he would allow “additional procedural creativity” if Mr Johnson did try to flout the law – warning that, “the only form of Brexit which we will have - whenever that might be - will be a Brexit that the House of Commons has explicitly endorsed.”
EU leaders would ultimately decide whether to grant any delay at the EU Summit on October 17th and 18th.