DUP 'could do deal with Labour if Corbyn wasn't leader'
24 November 2019, 13:11
The DUP would be open to doing a deal with the Labour Party if Jeremy Corbyn wasn't leader, Arlene Foster has indicated.
Mrs Foster admitted she could see no circumstance in which her party would support a minority Labour administration with Mr Corbyn as prime minister.
But she acknowledged there were others in the Labour Party, with different positions to Mr Corbyn, who she could consider working with.
In that situation, she said her party would judge any successor to Mr Corbyn against the DUP's election blueprint for Northern Ireland and whether the new leader's vision was good for the region.
"Jeremy Corbyn, of course is an anathema to anyone who believes in the United Kingdom," she said.
"I mean he would destroy the economy. We've seen that through his manifesto launch. I mean, some of it is complete fantastical stuff. How he's going to fund that no one knows, he would wreck the economy.
"He would wreck the defence of our nation as well. And more than that it would lead to the break-up of the United Kingdom.
"So therefore, we cannot see any circumstances, I see no circumstance where we would support a Jeremy Corbyn-led Labour Party.
"Of course there are others in the Labour Party who take a different view to Jeremy Corbyn.
"And, if it comes to be the case that someone else is leading the Labour Party, then we will judge it against not only our 12 point plan but whether it's good for Northern Ireland to be in communication with whoever's leading the Labour Party at that time."
Mrs Foster rejected the suggestion that Mr Corbyn's position on Brexit - with his opposition to the erection of economic barriers down the Irish Sea - was more unionist than either Theresa May or Boris Johnson.
"I think that's probably a tactical attack for him on the Conservative Party as opposed to anything he really genuinely believes in terms of the United Kingdom," she said.
The DUP is opposed to the current withdrawal deal negotiated by Mr Johnson.
It is unhappy with customs and regulatory arrangements that would see Northern Ireland treated differently to the rest of the UK and also the mechanism outlined for Stormont to give its consent to extending that system.
Conducting the vote on a straight majority basis, rather than using an Assembly mechanism that requires the consent of both nationalists and unionists, runs contrary to peace process agreements, the party contends.
Asked whether unionism would be in trouble if Mr Johnson secured a large majority, thus enabling him to ratify his deal in Parliament, Ms Foster replied: "Well, I don't think they will come back with a large majority.
"But we will still continue to use our influence there if they do come back with a large majority and to make sure that Northern Ireland's voice is heard with our strong team of DUP MPs."