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Last October, a Bloomberg reporter asked Arlene Foster whether she could accept differences in product regulations between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, as part of a Brexit deal.
The DUP leader was unequivocal. “That has been our one red line,” she insisted, “we cannot have either a customs border or a regulatory border down the Irish Sea because that would make us separate from the United Kingdom. That doesn’t work from a constitutional perspective and it doesn’t work from an economic perspective either.”
One year later, Foster’s party spectacularly dropped its “one red line” and accepted, in theory at least, checks down the Irish Sea. Boris Johnson’s proposals for replacing the backstop, which the government submitted to the EU Commission last week, are quite explicit about creating an internal-UK border for goods in transit between the British mainland and Ulster.