September 22, 2017 / 4:37 PM / a month ago

DUP leader says Brexit transition should be kept to 'absolute minimum'

BELFAST, Sept 22 (Reuters) - The head of Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist party, which is propping up British Prime Minister Theresa May’s government, on Friday called for any Brexit transition period to be kept to a minimum and accused the EU of trying to damage Britain.

In some of her most anti-EU comments since she agreed her 10 members of parliament would support May, Arlene Foster said in a statement that she believed “aggressive EU negotiators ... seem determined to do as much damage as they can to the UK.”

The DUP campaigned to leave the European Union during last year’s referendum. But 56 percent of Northern Ireland voters supported remain, and Foster has tended to shy away from hard Brexit positions.

Northern Ireland is widely seen as the region with the most to lose if customs barriers are introduced between Britain and the EU.

Foster described May’s Friday speech in Florence, in which she called for Britain to stay in the single market under its current terms for around two years, as a “positive vision.”

“Any transition period should be for the absolute minimum period,” she said. “The wishes expressed in the referendum should be delivered without undue delay.” (Reporting by Amanda Ferguson; Writing by Conor Humphries; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

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