Prime Minister Theresa May’s stern statement to the European Union has been praised by DUP Deputy Leader Nigel Dodds.
The Deputy Leader Nigel Dodds welcomed Mrs May’s rejection of a border in the Irish Sea.
Speaking at Downing Street on Friday following an EU summit in Salzburg, Mrs May said the United Kingdom and the European Union remain a "long way apart" on two big issues around Brexit.
She said she rejected a proposal by the EU to keep Northern Ireland in the customs union while the rest of the UK was out of it.
About the EU’s alternative option, Mrs May said: "That is unacceptable. We will never agree to it. It would mean breaking up our country.”
The Prime Minister also reaffirmed the Government's commitment to no hard border in Northern Ireland, before ending on a strident note.
She said: "The EU should be clear: I will not overturn the result of the referendum. Nor will I break up my country.”
‘She is going to stand up for UK interest’
DUP Westminster leader Nigel Dodds welcomed the Prime Minister's reassurances on the Northern Ireland border issue, but called for her to now "stand up" for the UK's interests.
Mr Dodds told the BBC: "It is time now that the Prime Minister demonstrates publicly, privately and to everyone in her own party and to Europe, to Parliament, that she is going to stand up for the UK's interest, including in Northern Ireland, that she is not going to be pushed around by Europe, she's not going to be bullied, she's not going to be coerced into either doing a bad deal for the United Kingdom or breaking the United Kingdom.”
The North Belfast MP also revealed his party had been in regular contact with the Government over recent days and weeks.
He added: "I think the Prime Minister's very firm reiteration of not breaking up the United Kingdom, of the importance of what she has described as our precious union, is coming across very, very strongly.”
However, Sinn Fein President Mary-Lou McDonald accused Theresa May of “deflection”.
She said: "Theresa May made a statement today which was billed as a major one in respect of Brexit negotiations.
“It was, regrettably, no more than an exercise in tired rhetoric."
‘Game of chicken’
This comes as the European Council President Donald Tusk said on Thursday that Mrs May’s Chequers plan “will not work”.
During a speech in Salzburg, where May met with EU leaders over dinner last night, he said that no Brexit agreement can be reached without a solution to the Irish border issues, and “while there are positive elements in the Chequers proposal, its suggested framework for economic cooperation will not work, not least because it risks undermining the single market”.
On Thursday DUP MP Ian Paisley Jr told talkRADIO’s Eamonn Holmes: “For Mr Tusk to dismiss this out of hand, I think it is a huge calculated blunder, and tactical error on his part.
“This really means it is down to a game of chicken of who will blink first.
“Will the EU blink first because they say this does not work? They’re right, Britain leaving the EU may not work for the needs of the European Council.
“But, it works for the people of Britain.”