A senior DUP MP has faced criticism for comparing the draft Brexit deal to a “punishment beating”.

Sammy Wilson, his party’s spokesman on Brexit, used the violent analogy in a TV interview, as he claimed the EU was treating the UK harshly for “daring to vote to leave”.

Vigilante attacks carried out by paramilitaries in Northern Ireland during the Troubles were commonly referred to as punishment beatings.

The assaults are still a regular occurrence, 20 years on from the Good Friday peace deal.

In an interview about the draft Brexit deal with Sky News, Mr Wilson said: “This is all about a punishment beating for the UK because they dared to vote to leave the EU.

“And unfortunately the Prime Minister has allowed that punishment beating to be administered.

“That punishment beating in my belief will damage the UK and damage the UK constitution.”

Liberal Democrat conference 2016Alistair Carmichael called Mr Wilson’s comments ‘completely unacceptable and potentially dangerous’ (Gareth Fuller/PA)

Liberal Democrat Northern Ireland spokesman Alistair Carmichael criticised Mr Wilson’s choice of language.

“Over the past few months there has been cross-party agreement that the use of violent imagery and language has no place in our politics,” he said.

“Sammy Wilson’s analogy is completely unacceptable and potentially dangerous. Many will read his words as being a clear reference to paramilitary violence and intimidation used during the Troubles in Northern Ireland by terrorist groups.

“Politicians set the tone. In this time of division and rancour we must debate with respect and care.”

Mr Wilson is well known for his robust and outspoken approach.

In January, he expressed regret for calling Taoiseach Leo Varadkar “a nutcase”.

Last month, he branded Mr Varadkar “despicable, low and rotten”.