Vocal DUP Brexit advocate Sammy Wilson has declared that “when it comes to fantasies, dreams and self-delusion, Sinn Fein are sailing along on the highest clouds”.
He was responding to a claim that the Tories are producing “fantasy non-solutions” to the Irish border, a remark made by Sinn Fein’s leader during the party’s ard fheis at the weekend.
The border between Northern Ireland and the Republic will be the UK’s only land frontier with an EU state after next year’s withdrawal and is one of the most vexed issues facing negotiators in Brussels.
Theresa May’s Cabinet is considering whether to support a customs partnership with the EU after Brexit, whereby Britain would effectively collect tariffs on behalf of the bloc, or a technological solution to border control known as “maximum facilitation”.
Sinn Fein president Mary Lou McDonald said: “Allowing the Tories to dodge, equivocate and engage in fantasy non-solutions to the Irish question is most certainly not the answer.
“Treading water, fingers crossed and hoping for the best is not a strategy at this time.
“Propping up a Tory government that glories in wilful ignorance and indifference to Ireland is not the way forward.
“If the British Government don’t have a credible, acceptable proposal, if they cannot demonstrate how they will avoid a hard border, protect the Good Friday Agreement and citizens’ rights, then the Irish Government must call them out.
“There can be no question of progressing to the next phase of these negotiations in the absence of an answer to the Irish question. This is one test that our Government cannot flunk.”
Mr Wilson, DUP MP for East Antrim, said in a statement today: “The real fantasies are being indulged in by Sinn Fein.
“They think they can keep NI in the EU whilst the rest of the UK leaves.
“They promise to deliver on saperating NI from the UK with a border down the Irish sea.”
He added: “They haven’t a chance; they can dream, but we will be their worse nightmare. We will use our position at Westminster to ensure the government keeps its promise to treat Northern Ireland the same as the UK.”