A senior lawmaker from Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) dismissed a leaked proposal to install a joint EU-UK trading regime in the region after the United Kingdom leaves the European Union.
An unnamed UK government official told Reuters news agency on Friday that the UK could propose joint EU-UK jurisdiction in Northern Ireland to allow for unrestricted free trade with the Republic of Ireland, an EU member state, and the rest of the UK.
But DUP lawmaker Sammy Wilson said the proposal was "contradictory" and had not been discussed with his party, which props up a fragile coalition government in London led by the Conservative Party.
"To suggest that Northern Ireland be tied to both EU and UK regulations, when one of the objectives of leaving the [EU] Single Market is to allow the UK to set its own regulations, raises the question which regulations apply to Northern Ireland if and when the UK and the EU regulations diverge," he said.
Read more: Brexit: EU insists on open border in Ireland, say Angela Merkel and Leo Varadkar
Squaring the Irish circle
The Irish border has been a sticking point in Brexit negotiations for months, despite the EU and the UK publicly committing to ensuring the free flow of people and goods across the Northern Irish-Irish border after Brexit.
EU officials have demanded London propose a solution that would stop the reintroduction of border checks after Brexit. That would likely require Northern Ireland to retain some EU rules. But the DUP has said any post-Brexit proposal must keep Northern Ireland wedded to UK rules.
The official who spoke to Reuters said the dual-regulatory proposal was inspired by Liechtenstein, which is able to trade on equal terms with both Switzerland and the EU. But he added that the proposal was only one of many that the UK government was considering.
"Instead of moving from one set of half-cooked ideas to the other, it is now time for the government to put down its foot and make it clear to EU negotiators that the Prime Minister stands by her commitment that no deal is better than a bad deal," Wilson said, referring to previous UK threats to walk away from the negotiations.