DUP threatens 'serious action' over Brexit

Theresa May   Getty

A Brexit deal is "within reach" next week, European Union negotiator Michel Barnier said on Wednesday (Oct 10), even as he rammed home his insistence that Britain must accept possible checks on trade between its mainland and Northern Ireland.

LEAVE voters in Northern Ireland regard sacrificing the peace process as an acceptable price for Brexit, new research claims. "Is the DUP aware of the Irish Government's position on this?"

He also stressed the EU's insistence that Britain must accept possible checks on goods moving between its mainland and its province of Northern Ireland, saying Brexit will trigger the need for customs, value-added tax and compliance checks with European Union standards.

The Northern Irish party struck a confidence and supply deal with Mrs May in the aftermath of the 2017 General Election, effectively propping up her Government with their 10 MPs.

Steve Baker, Conservative MP for Wycombe, said he believed "at least 40" of his colleagues would vote against a deal along the lines the PM has proposed which would include this "backstop" for Northern Ireland.

He said there would have to be checks on goods travelling to Northern Ireland from the rest of the United Kingdom, because they would effectively be arriving in the EU's single market if there was no hard border with the Republic of Ireland.

By withdrawing its support, the DUP could make it hard for May to pass legislation through parliament, including the budget which will be voted on later this month.

The DUP has 10 MPs, although Ian Paisley can not vote in the Commons until November 20 after being suspended for failing to declare two family holidays paid for by the Sri Lankan government.

Top EU officials were warned Wednesday to make plans to cope with the fallout from a "no-deal" Brexit as their chief negotiator said talks with Britain must make more progress before next week's crunch summit. The Government has said it will publish revised proposals for the Irish border "in due course".

Selmayr, secretary general of the European Commission, has been tasked with coordinating preparedness to protect the EU from economic and political damage if Britain leaves the bloc on March 29 next year without a divorce deal in place.

The de-facto Deputy Prime Minister was pressed on the DUP's support when he appeared on ITV's Peston on Wednesday night.

Some Brexiteers say those proposals would ensure the EU kept control over swathes of the British economy and thus run counter to the spirit of her manifesto pledge to leave the EU Customs Union and the Single Market.

Senior Cabinet ministers will gather in Downing Street on Thursday for the latest in a series of briefings on the state of negotiations, though it is not expected that any fresh decisions will be made at the meeting.

Negotiators in Brussels remain tight-lipped, but it sounds like a deal on the withdrawal agreement is close.

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