January 23, 2019

UK PM faces fury of Northern Irish allies over Brexit

11 November 2018, 05:57 | Devin Moran

SIPA USA PA Images Brexiteer MPs have called on Theresa May to publish the full details of the backstop arrangement

SIPA USA  PA Images               Brexiteer MPs have called on Theresa May to publish the full details of the backstop arrangement

The letter, seen by The Times of London, was in response to a letter sent by the DUP to May on 1 November and suggests the European Union is looking for a customs border in the Irish Sea between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.

Arlene Foster said her party would "not be able to support this if it came to Parliament in the form that it is in the letter".

Less than five months before Britain is due to leave the European Union on March 29, a deal is at least 95 percent done but officials say they are still haggling over the fate of the land border between British-ruled Northern Ireland and European Union member Ireland. She said: "I will make no bones about the fact that the Brexit experience has exposed real weaknesses within the devolution settlement that will require them to be worked through and resolved along the way".

But the DUP has interpreted the wording of her letter to mean that the measure will be contained in the Brexit divorce deal despite Mrs May's insistence it will never come into effect.

"The PM knows the consequences, she now needs to reconsider", DUP lawmaker Sammy Wilson said.

The Times reported that such a border is the EU's preferred option, after seeing a letter May sent to the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) saying she would not let this "come into force".

"When it comes to Northern Ireland it's very important to listen to, and have regard for, what the DUP has to say - but there are other political parties as well", Mr Varadkar added.

"The fact that Brexit is happening makes that hard to replicate, but our objective as an Irish Government is to do that to the extent that we can, in order to allow people to travel freely as they have done for so long now, but also to allow trade to function as it does now". Any version of the backstop would apply unless and until a wider UK-EU deal on the future relationship solved the issue of how to avoid a hard border with Ireland.

Theresa May's Conservative Party relies on the support of the DUP's 10 MPs for her Commons majority, votes which may become crucial as she attempts to get a deal through Parliament.

"A successful outcome is not guaranteed but I think it is possible in the next couple of weeks", Varadkar said at the British Irish council on Friday.

The UK Government Minister for the Department for Exiting the EU - Robin Walker - was at today's meeting.

The summit on the Isle of Man will also be attended by the first ministers of Scotland and Wales, Nicola Sturgeon and Carwyn Jones.

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