Backstop does not have a sting - Coveney

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Speaking ahead of a day of engagements in Belfast involving meetings with business and political leaders, Mr Coveney denied meddling in United Kingdom politics, insisting he has an obligation to challenge those "misrepresenting" what the Brexit deal contains.

One leading tax expert said ministers would still be able to make tax changes by introducing new clauses into future Finance Bills or introducing emergency legislation but would find it much "more cumbersome".

Mr Coveney suggested that the views of ardent Brexiteer Mr Wilson were not reflective of broader unionism, highlighting the concerns raised by the farming community in Northern Ireland about the prospect of a no deal.

They will provide information on both no-deal and other Brexit scenarios, and will be followed by billboards and posters in the coming weeks.

Mr Campbell said unless substantial changes were made, the deal would fall - but that the DUP would keep the door "open" for further discussions on a way forward.

Smooth trade through the Irish border is essential for businesses and leaders in Brussels, London and Dublin are keen to avoid a "hard border" between Northern Ireland the Republic.

He described the backstop as a "bogeyman".

But without the DUP's support, and with many of May's Conservative MP still strongly opposed, the deal can not pass.

"The Withdrawal Agreement is not a fair deal and we cannot support it".

"There has to be a fine balance".

McDonald's statement is consistent with the message given by France's Europe minister, Nathalie Loiseau, who said on Tuesday that "there's nothing more [the EU] can do" than restate its position that the backstop would only be used as a last resort and until a new trade deal came into force.

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"We're not trying to bypass the DUP but they can not have a veto over this process".

He added that he was not "trying to meddle" in the affairs of the British government, but that he had an obligation to protect the interests of the island of Ireland as a whole. The DUP and Sinn Féin won nearly two thirds of votes in the 2017 assembly and general elections.

"However, the Withdrawal Agreement and the Backstop can not, and will not, be rewritten, renegotiated or vetoed".

Former cabinet minister and Brexiteer Theresa Villiers said the evening "hasn't changed my view" and she would still not support the agreement, negotiated between Mrs May and European Union leaders.

Earlier on Thursday, Naomi Long said Parliament needs to "stop chasing unicorns" and get its act together on Brexit as the vote looms closer.

"So we're going to have to look at what are the available options that realistically are still on the table".

As it stands, there are no tariffs on goods between the two countries as both the Ireland and United Kingdom are within the single market and Irish Prime Minister, Leo Varadkar has reiterated he is focused on making sure a hard border isn't created.

Sir Hugh Orde said a no-deal Brexit would only be a benefit to dissident republican terrorists.

"The backstop is not needed".

Jeremy Corbyn has said European Union withdrawal agreement amounts to a "de facto Irish Sea border" and has vowed his MPs will vote it down next week.

According to a report from the BBC, "MPs have backed measures created to thwart preparations for a no-deal Brexit, by defeating the government in the House of Commons".

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