Speaking on BBC’s Question Time on Thursday night, Arlene Foster, confirmed that on a “rational and logical level” people in Northern Ireland would choose to remain in the UK. Earlier this month, DUP’s leader Ms Foster said there “is a gateway of opportunity for the whole of the UK and for Northern Ireland” after the UK-EU trade deal.
She told The Andrew Marr Show it was “important” in Northern Ireland’s centenary year to take the opportunities “for all of our people”.
The First Minister for Northern Ireland added that the Brexit deal tackled “some of the great difficulties that there are with the (Northern Ireland) Protocol”.
The Protocol prevents a hardening of the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
This is done by keeping Northern Ireland in the EU’s single market for goods.
It also means Northern Ireland applies EU custom rules at its ports.
Ms Foster rejected suggestions that the DUP should have agreed to former Prime Minister Theresa May’s backstop proposal.
QT host Fiona Bruce asked Ms Foster: “Do you regret now not going for the Theresa May deal and instead you’ve ended up with a protocol that you don’t even like?”
The First Minister responded: “Well the Theresa May deal of course, and the backstop envisaged in that, in the words of the Attorney General would have been with us forever.
READ MORE: Northern Ireland to face worst fear as UK ‘exit door’ opens
Ms Foster’s comments came after former Chancellor George Osborne claimed Northern Ireland is “already heading for the exit door” out of the UK after Brexit.
Mr Osborne blasted the “short-sighted” unionist politicians in a recent column.
The former Chancellor is now the editor of the Evening Standard and previously campaigned alongside former Prime Minister David Cameron for Britain to remain in the EU.
But he claimed the rest of the UK “will not care” about Northern Ireland’s departure.
Mr Osborne wrote: “Northern Ireland is already heading for the exit door.
“By remaining in the EU single market, it is for all economic intents and purposes now slowly becoming part of a united Ireland.
He added: “Northern Irish unionists always feared the mainland was not sufficiently committed to their cause.
“Now their short-sighted support for Brexit (and unbelievably stupid decision to torpedo Theresa May’s deal that avoided separate Irish arrangements) has made those fears a reality.
“It pains me to report that most here and abroad will not care.”
Mr Osborne went on to claim that Brexit “has made the future of the UK the central political issues of the coming decade”.