The Impartial Reporter has given me the opportunity to respond to last week’s article by Alastair Campbell. After the article appeared in print, a fair number of Fermanagh people contacted me. Most of them summed up Mr. Campbell with sentences which included the words “Iraq” and “spin”. 
I accept that Alastair Campbell’s expertise is the art of ‘spin’ but some of his claims in the article went beyond being an evangelist for the EU and strayed into the simple misrepresentation of facts, whether deliberate or otherwise. 
I don’t agree with the Government on every issue but I was delighted to host the Prime Minister in County Fermanagh and in particular welcome her to the most western town in the United Kingdom. 
It was ironic, that Sinn Fein stood outside and protested when the Prime Minister was speaking inside Belfast’s Waterfront Hall. 
I’m not surprised that Mr. Campbell was critical of myself and the Prime Minister but I noted he chose not to criticise his friends in Sinn Fein. 
This is despite Sinn Fein being the only party in Northern Ireland to boycott the Assembly, the Executive and the House of Commons. Instead they sit outside and shout about Brexit from the sidelines. The DUP’s MPs take their seats on the green benches and use their votes to shape our exit from the EU. I want to ensure we get a sensible deal. 
Some shamefully attempt to manipulate the fears of people working within our excellent community and voluntary sector by casting doubts on their funding. The EU has confirmed that peace and cross-Border projects in Northern Ireland will continue to receive funding. The UK will also continue to contribute. 
For all of his claims to defend the Belfast Agreement, Alastair falls into the same trap as many other commentators by on the one hand liberally adding to the Belfast Agreement and with the other undermining the East-West elements of that Agreement. 
He appears to have no objection to erecting a Border down the Irish Sea. This would be economically disastrous for Northern Ireland. 
I want to ensure that our local businesses are faced with no barriers to the daily trade which occurs with the Republic of Ireland and I don’t want to see that at the expense of trading with our single biggest market. 
Whilst trade with the Republic is important, we sell four times as much goods and services to Great Britain than to the Irish Republic, valued at £14bn. Northern Ireland also purchases nearly six times as much from GB than from the Republic, worth over £13billion.
Perhaps cutting Northern Ireland off from a market which is more important than the Republic of Ireland, rest of the EU and rest of the world combined is just one of the issues that Alastair Campbell is prepared to “work it out somehow” in his desire to thwart Brexit in part if he cannot achieve it in totality. 
One of the latest slogans employed by those who cannot accept the referendum result is that of the “no deal Brexiteer”. 
Whilst Mr. Campbell went further to use the term “no-deal Brextremists” he wasn’t clear to whom he is referring. 
Had he chosen to go back as far as the joint letter I penned with Martin McGuinness in August of 2016 he would be aware that the DUP do not want to see a no deal outcome. 
For Alastair Campbell, the EU’s rejection of proposals by the UK equates to there being “no answers”. 
Now that the threat of annexing Northern Ireland through the backstop has been removed, the EU has a choice whether to agree pragmatic solutions – or risk a no deal scenario. 
The risk of failure lies in the hands of the EU, but for some, the opportunity to lay the blame at the UK’s door is just too tempting. 
The DUP is committed to securing a Brexit deal that provides a seamless, frictionless border with the Republic of Ireland, delivering clarity for businesses and households across Northern Ireland, whilst ensuring the constitutional and economic integrity of the UK is maintained. 
In the coming months, UK negotiators should show considerably more mettle than those who adopt a defeatist position. 
They should be decisive and responsible, remaining true both to the Union and the referendum result. 
Then Alastair Campbell and others can be proven wrong and the best outcome for all our people will be achieved.