by Arlene Foster

As I travel around Northern Ireland and beyond, some people say to me the EU are offering us the best of both worlds. Many of my political opponents say this. I read it in newspapers. 
I wish that were the case. 
In my view, the best of both worlds for Northern Ireland would be: 
1) Full participation in the UK single market, with goods flowing as unhindered as they do now and continue to do so in future. 
2) Full access to the EU single market free from tariffs. 
3) Full access to trade deals the UK makes after we leave. 
4) Full access to trade deals the EU makes after we leave. 
Have we been offered these four things? No. 
The first, the UK single market, Northern Ireland’s access would be restricted. 
The second, EU access, comes with the requirement for Northern Ireland to fully adopt and implement EU regulations with no changes even if they harm our businesses. 
The third – UK trade deals – we would be out of these or the EU would get to pick which bits we could or couldn’t benefit from.  
The fourth, EU trade deals are unclear.  Free Trade Agreements don’t just cover regulation but tariffs too. This would require not just being in the Single Market but in the Customs Union. In other words, a total sea Border descending between Northern Ireland and its largest market, Great Britain. 
On a harsh interpretation, we are being offered one out of four. On a kind interpretation we’re being offered one and a half. 
Both are a fail. Both are far from the best of both worlds. In terms of hard Borders, the EU proposals create an ever deepening Border in the North Channel between Northern Ireland and Great Britain. 
That is unacceptable to me both from a constitutional point of view but also from an economic point of view. 
Some wrongly describe our opposition to what is being proposed by the EU27 as being a determination by unionists to have a hard Border. That is just nonsense. 
I, like many readers, grew up on the Border. None of us want to see a return of a hard Border. And neither, London, Dublin nor Brussels are suggesting they will build a hard Border. But let’s remember why there was a hard Border in the 70s, 80s and 90s. It had more to do with semtex than it did with powdered milk. 
I am working for a sensible deal. One that works for Fermanagh, the United Kingdom and our neighbours in the Republic of Ireland. That was my message to Leo Varadkar last week when we met in Dublin.  
When people across the United Kingdom voted to Leave the EU, they were voting to take back control of their Borders, money and laws from the European Union. 
People had lost patience with the EU as it was distant, undemocratic and constantly eroding the sovereignty of the United Kingdom Parliament. 
We must be careful that in all the disputes over our terms for leaving, that we don’t lose sight of why so many voted to Leave. We must keep cool heads, take our time and focus on getting the right outcome. 
I am acutely aware of the genuine heartfelt concerns of people along the Border. Some have been fuelled by misinformation and spin by referendum deniers who could never see the EU’s faults before the referendum. 
The suggestions about a return to violence as a result of Northern Ireland leaving the EU are incredibly careless. 
Such claims by democratic politicians only serve as recruiting calls for those who would prefer the bomb or bullet over the ballot box. I urge people who have made such claims to be more careful with their language in future. 
The decisions we take in the next few weeks will ultimately shape the type of Fermanagh that our grandchildren live in.  
I am sceptical of claims about any agreements or arrangements being ‘temporary’. 
I am not in the camp that ‘no deal’ is the best way forward. An agreed and structured exit from the EU works best for everyone. However, no unionist can sign up to a deal which cuts Northern Ireland off from the rest of the UK. I am glad we are not alone in this position. I am glad that MPs from across the UK are backing the DUP’s position.  
The EU27 must now realise that their proposal to move the Republic of Ireland’s Border to the Irish Sea is not going to work.  I trust this will enable them to give serious consideration to solutions as proposed by our own government back in August 2017.