Wednesday 23 January 2019
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DUP fury with May over prospect of Brexit ‘Irish Sea border’

Theresa May s Brexit plans have been dealt a blow as her Democratic Unionist Party allies hit out at fears that a deal could impose barriers between Northern Ireland and Great Britain.DUP leader Arlene Foster said the Prime Minister appeared wedded to the idea of a border down the Irish Sea despite Downing Street s repeated assurances to the contrary.The response of the DUP has caused frustration in Downing Street, with sources insisting that Mrs May was not hiding behind weasel words and had stressed that she would not accept a deal which saw Northern Ireland hived off.The European Union s fallback proposal aimed at avoiding a hard border between Ireland and the UK would effectively keep Northern Ireland aligned with Brussels customs union and single market.The PM s letter raises alarm bells for those who value the integrity of our precious union for those who want a proper Brexit for the whole UK. From her letter, it appears the PM is wedded to the idea of a border down the Irish Sea with NI in the EU SM regulatory regime. Arlene Foster (@DUPleader) November 9, 2018A leaked letter from the Prime Minister in reply to an earlier message from Mrs Foster and her deputy, Nigel Dodds, set out Mrs May s approach.She wants a backstop measure which would create a temporary joint customs territory with the EU for the whole of the UK.But Brussels appears set to insist on a Northern Ireland-only backstop to the backstop in case negotiations on a wider UK approach break down or any time limit on it expires.In the letter, obtained by the Times, Mrs May said: I am clear that I could not accept there being any circumstances or conditions in which that backstop to the backstop , which would break up the UK customs territory, could come in to force. But she acknowledged that the unique circumstances of Northern Ireland could require specific alignment solutions in some scenarios on regulations.The scope of any alignment with Brussels rules would be limited to what is strictly necessary to avoid a hard border.The DUP has interpreted the wording of her letter to mean that Northern Ireland-only measures will be contained in the Brexit divorce deal despite Mrs May s insistence it will never come into effect.Theresa May depends on the 10 MPs from Arlene Foster s DUP to support her minority administration (Clodagh Kilcoyne/PA)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. It appears the Prime Minister is wedded to the idea of a border down the Irish Sea with Northern Ireland in the EU single market regulatory regime. Our position has always been and remains that we will not support arrangements that leave Northern Ireland separated from the rest of the United Kingdom and tied to the European Union s customs or regulatory regimes. Nigel Dodds (@NigelDoddsDUP) November 9, 2018DUP Brexit spokesman Sammy Wilson said we want to trust the Prime Minister but you have to judge any promise by what is actually delivered in an agreement .He told BBC Radio 4 s Today programme that the letter makes it quite clear the Government has accepted there will be a Northern Ireland-only backstop, that that backstop will require specific alignment for regulations without Northern Ireland being given a say. That, to us, is a breach of the promise which has been made that we would not be cut off from the rest of the United Kingdom, he said.The Prime Minister 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 Downing Street spokesman said: The Prime Minister s letter sets out her commitment, which she has been absolutely clear about on any number of occasions, to never accepting any circumstances in which the UK is divided into two customs territories. The Government will not agree anything that brings about a hard border on the island of Ireland. 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.Downing Street has played down suggestions that a Brexit deal is imminent, after European Council president Donald Tusk appeared to indicate a breakthrough could come within the next week.A senior source said: It does not feel to me like things are going to move today. Cabinet ministers have been on stand-by for an emergency session to review any potential deal, but the source said that nothing is going to happen in terms of a meeting over the weekend.A potential sticking point could be demands for EU fishing fleets to be given continued access to British coastal waters as the price for agreeing to Mrs May s UK-wide backstop, the Daily Telegraph reported.A UK-wide customs deal would maintain quota-free and tariff-free access to European markets for the British fishing industry and in return the EU wants to keep continued access to UK waters for its trawlers, the newspaper said.Just arrived on the Isle of Man for tomorrow s British-Irish Council Summit. #Brexit likely to be very high on the agenda. @BICSecretariat@IOMGovernment Nicola Sturgeon (@NicolaSturgeon) November 8, 2018Ireland s Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, Mrs May s effective deputy prime minister David Lidington, and Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley were attending a summit in the Isle of Man.Brexit is expected to dominate the agenda of the British Irish Council, which also involves the first ministers of Scotland and Wales, Nicola Sturgeon and Carwyn Jones.(function(i,s,o,g,r,a,m){i[ GoogleAnalyticsObject ]=r;i[r]=i[r]||function(){ (i[r].q=i[r].q||[]).push(arguments)},i[r].l=1*new Date();a=s.createElement(o), m=s.getElementsByTagName(o)[0];a.async=1;a.src=g;m.parentNode.insertBefore(a,m) })(window,document, script , // , ga ); ga( create , UA-72310761-1 , auto , { name : pacontentapi }); ga( pacontentapi.set , referrer , location.origin); ga( pacontentapi.set , dimension1 , By David Hughes, Press Association Chief Political Correspondent ); ga( pacontentapi.set , dimension2 , 2d1fb17c-bc63-48b5-ab9c-b60fbae69eab ); ga( pacontentapi.set , dimension3 , paservice:news,paservice:news:ireland,paservice:news:uk ); ga( pacontentapi.set , dimension6 , story ); ga( pacontentapi.set , dimension7 , composite ); ga( pacontentapi.set , dimension8 , null); ga( pacontentapi.set , dimension9 , null); ga( pacontentapi.send , pageview , { location : location.href, page : (location.pathname + + location.hash), title : DUP fury with May over prospect of Brexit u2018Irish Sea border u2019 });

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