DUP leader Arlene Foster has dismissed speculation about a Northern Ireland-only backstop and said she expects to meet Boris Johnson tonight.
The UK proposed a plan that would see Northern Ireland remain in the UK’s customs territory but operating the EU’s rules and procedures on tariffs.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said progress is being made in closed-door Brexit talks taking place between the EU and UK in Brussels.
Mr Varadkar told reporters it is “unclear” if a new deal will be struck by Tuesday night.
He said the gap remains “quite wide” between the EU and UK, particularly on the issue of customs arrangements on the island of Ireland.
Ms Foster said any Brexit deal must respect the economic and constitutional place of Northern Ireland within the UK and that speculation about the backstop is “far off the mark”.
“When I hear talk of the Northern Ireland backstop as I did in your headlines, I think the things are very far off the mark in terms of all of that,” she told RTÉ News.
“I think what is important to say is that we do want to get a deal but it has to be a deal that respects the constitutional and economic place of Northern Ireland within the United Kingdom and there has to be consent.
“There has to be consent which is in accordance with the Belfast agreement, in other words there has to be consent from the nationalist community and the Unionist community and so those things are very important,” she said.
When asked if she will be meeting Mr Johnson at Downing Street tonight, she said: “I’m sure we’ll be engaging with the Prime Minister this evening.”
When asked on BBC Northern Ireland’s Newsline if the DUP would support a border in the Irish sea, she said: “No, we must remain within the UK’s customs union. It is a principle we have and that will forever be there. We have to be integrally within the UK.”
“I think there’s been a huge amount of speculation since the Taoiseach met with Boris Johnson last Thursday. Some of it is so far off the mark, you can’t see the mark anymore to be quite honest with you,” she said.
“What is important is that we stick to our principles, we get a deal that respects the economic and constitutional integrity of the United Kingdom and that means all of the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland included.”
By Fiachra Ó Cionnaith