DUP will not support May's Irish Sea border backstop plan - Arlene Foster

Remigio Civitarese
Novembre 10, 2018

The leak of the letter is seen by some observers, as well as the DUP, as part of a laying of the ground by May for a showdown with the party over checks in British ports or factories in Northern Ireland or Britain.

A spokesman added that "the government will not agree anything that brings about a hard border on the island of Ireland".

However, she did not rule out the backstop being signed into the Brexit deal.

Mrs Foster said: "The Prime Minister's letter raises alarm bells for those who value the integrity of our precious union and for those who want a proper Brexit for the whole of the UK".

The EU has insisted on a Northern Ireland-only "backstop to the backstop" in case negotiations on a wider United Kingdom approach break down.

This backstop - created to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland - would be the last resort option and come into effect only if future trade negotiations failed to produce a solution for preserving the open Irish border.

Sammy Wilson, the DUP's Brexit spokesperson, accused May of "total betrayal" and ditching the "promises she made" to the party, which has already threatened to withdraw its support for the embattled prime minister.

The row comes as Brexit is expected to dominate the agenda of the British Irish Council, which will be attended by the taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, David Lidington, who is in effect May's deputy, and the Northern Ireland secretary, Karen Bradley.

A leaked letter from Ms May to the DUP says the British prime minister wants a "backstop" measure which would create a temporary "joint customs territory" with the European Union for the whole of the UK.

Speaking at the British-Irish Council summit on the Isle of Man, Mr Varadkar said he was hopeful a Brexit deal could be done by the end of the year but it would not amount to a "clean break" as talks would have to continue.

In a letter to the DUP sent this week, May said the EU was insisting that a backstop which keeps Northern Ireland wedded to the single market and customs union is included in the deal now being negotiated in Brussels.

"People will need to ask themselves what is it that is going to be in the best interests of those who sent them to Westminster to represent them, to ensure that we maintain living standards and investment and prosperity and employment in our country".

"The time for DUP bluster, chest beating and hand wringing has long gone".

The party's Westminster leader, Mr Dodds, warned on Sky News: "I think the prime minister will hopefully realise what can be got through parliament and what can't".

But she acknowledged that the "unique circumstances" of Northern Ireland "could require specific alignment solutions in some scenarios" on regulations.

"And I think if we do that, if we listen to the voice of Northern Ireland as a whole that will help us to come to an agreement".

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