The DUP has delivered a sucker punch to Prime Minister Theresa May, slamming her revised Brexit plans even before they are published on Wednesday, meaning her deal looks doomed to fail in the crucial vote in parliament next week.
The PM’s deputy, David Lidington, had declared earlier in the day that the government would be unveiling “specific proposals” to address fears expressed by the DUP (Democratic Unionist Party) – the Tories’ Northern Irish allies – about her Brexit deal, the Mirror reports.
Lidington claimed that Northern Ireland would not be trapped by EU rules in any future relationship, as the Stormont assembly would have a veto on any changes.
Yet minutes later, Sammy Wilson, the DUP’s Brexit spokesperson, poured cold water on those compromises, calling them “fairly meaningless” in a TV interview with Sky News – insisting that only the removal of the Irish backstop would satisfy them.
“The only deal that could swing the DUP round is if the backstop as it applies to the UK as a whole or to Northern Ireland specifically were removed from this agreement,” Wilson said.
Without the support of May’s allies in government, the DUP, the PM’s deal looks highly unlikely to get the seal of approval in the House of Commons vote on Tuesday. Five days of debate on May’s deal begins on Wednesday afternoon.
Shadow Secretary of State for International Trade, Barry Gardiner, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that Labour would “bring forward a vote of no confidence” in the Tory government if May loses the vote.
Earlier in the day, pro-remain Tory backbencher, Dominic Grieve, tabled an amendment that would give MPs a greater say over what would happen next if the PM’s deal gets voted down. It would mean a motion would have to be put forward to the House of Commons by Monday, January 21.
The sticking point in the current Brexit deal on offer to UK MPs is the Irish backstop. Certain parliamentarians fear the backstop could trap the UK under EU customs rules, requiring checks to be made on goods between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK, if there is no agreement to safeguard the Irish border by December 2020.
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