DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds has said he would rather see Brexit cancelled than allow for the break-up for the United Kingdom.
Speaking to the BBC’s Newsnight, Dodds said: ‘I would stay in the European Union and remain rather than risk Northern Ireland’s position. That’s how strongly I feel about the Union.
‘So yes, the answer must be something that works for the whole of the United Kingdom – that’s our first and main priority.’
He added: ‘We want to see Brexit delivered, we believe the referendum result should be respected and delivered on, but it can’t be at the risk of separating Northern Ireland out from the rest of the United Kingdom.’
In an interview with LBC, Dodds also said that staying in the EU was preferable to departing on Theresa May’s deal.
‘I think it would be actually better staying in the European Union than living under this Withdrawal Agreement, which would mean you would accept all the rules of the European Union, pay in all the money, but have no say whatsoever.’
He urged the government to return to Brussels to demand changes that would make the backstop acceptable to parliament.
‘We have said that were the backstop to become operational, Northern Ireland would sit in a separate legal position from the rest of the United Kingdom in economic and trade terms.
‘In those circumstances, there is the strong possibility that we could have a long-term outcome whereby Northern Ireland would inevitably pull away from its biggest trading market in Great Britain as there would be new internal barriers within the United Kingdom.’
The DUP has not been convinced by Theresa May’s efforts to provide reassurances on the backstop.
The Belfast MP said: ‘We deeply regret the numerous missed opportunities by those who negotiated on behalf of the UK to listen to our warnings about the dangers of the backstop and to take steps to remedy those deficiencies.
‘Over the coming weeks and months, we will continue to play a central role to chart a route that respects the democratic desire to leave the European Union but that does so in a way that strengthens our United Kingdom.’