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

Liam Fox

The Northern Irish party which props up Prime Minister Theresa May's government on Friday cast her Brexit negotiation as a betrayal and cautioned it could not support a deal that divided the United Kingdom.

British Prime Minister Theresa May drew the fury of her crucial Northern Ireland allies on Friday after seemingly accepting an EU-backed Brexit solution they fervently oppose.

Theresa May will dismiss claims that she has capitulated on the "backstop to the backstop" but it seems clear, based on the contents of her five-page letter to the Democratic Unionist Party, revealed yesterday by The Times, that she is willing to concede on pretty much all the European Union has asked for.

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 Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) have been angered by a letter sent by May, in which she concedes the EU are still arguing for Northern Ireland to remain in the single market and customs union if talks collapse - effectively meaning a border down the Irish sea.

DUP Leader Arlene Foster at Stormont in Belfast, Northern Ireland, on November 2, 2018.

"Thirdly, the promise which was made in the agreement in December that if there was to be any regulatory alignment then Northern Ireland would have a say on that - that seems to have been removed as well, which would mean regulations which would apply to Northern Ireland would not be decided at Westminster, would have no input from Northern Ireland and would come only from the EU".

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The scope of any alignment with Brussels' rules would be limited to what is "strictly necessary" to avoid a hard border.

At issue is the problem of how to avoid border checks between British Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland after Brexit enters into force on March 29. "For us it is a violation of the promise that was given that will be done, that we were cut off from the rest of the United Kingdom".

Britain's culture minister Jeremy Wright arrives In Downing Street.

"It can not be negotiated downwards".

Britain's junior Brexit minister told a German media outlet he was optimistic that Britain and the European Union would reach a Brexit deal soon, adding that he hoped this would happen in the next three weeks.

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

Earlier, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said he still believes a Brexit deal can be done in the coming weeks but warned that "lots of things can go wrong".

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