The European Union’s Chief negotiator Michel Barnier has said he is read to come forward with an “improved” proposal for the Irish border.
After briefing EU foreign ministers in Brussels, Mr Barnier insisted that the EU offer would respect the “territorial integrity” of the UK.
He added that the next full summit of EU leaders on October 18 would be the “moment of truth” and then they would see “whether an agreement we are hoping for is in our grasp”.
However, DUP Deputy Leader Nigel Dodds has said the EU negotiator’s plan is not possible.
H said: “So Michel Barnier says he can do different kinds of checks between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK as if that makes it more palatable.
"The fundamental point is that internal UK checks are only needed if it is intended to separate Northern Ireland from Great Britain.
"Despite the talk of “improvements” the backstop being insisted upon by the EU would mean a different regime for Northern Ireland compared to the rest of the U.K.
"It still means a border down the Irish Sea although with different kinds of checks. The fact is that both Theresa May and the Labour Party have said no British Prime Minister could accept such a concept. It is not just unionists who object.
"And anyone with the desire to see our economy prosper will not want to see barriers put in the way of sales to and from our biggest market in the rest of the UK.
"There is however one upside in all of this. Having dismissed technology as magical thinking for the border between the Irish Republic and Northern Ireland it is suddenly okay for the border between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK. Progress of sorts!”
‘We need to de-dramatise’
Mr Barnier said he was working to “de-dramatise” the checks that would be needed if a “backstop” was used.
He said: “We are ready to improve this proposal. Work on the EU side is ongoing.
“We are clarifying which goods arriving in Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK would need to be checked and where, when and by whom these checks could be performed.
“We can also clarify that most checks can take place away from the border at the company premises or in the markets.
We need to de-dramatise the checks that are needed.”
He added: “What we need in the withdrawal agreement is a legally operational backstop which fulls respects the territorial integrity of the UK.
“It is a backstop that will only apply unless a better solution is found,” he said.
This comes as EU leaders meet on Wednesday, and the first time they have met since Mrs May announced her Chequers plan in July.