UK PM May draws Northern Irish allies’ fury over Brexit
LONDON: British Prime Minister Theresa May drew the fury of her crucial Northern Irish allies on Friday after seemingly accepting an Eubacked Brexit solution they fervently oppose.
The Times newspaper reported that May sent a fivepage letter on Tuesday to the leaders of Northern Ireland's small Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) that props up her government.
In it, May reportedly tried to assure her allies that she would never allow a Brexit deal proposal offered by Brussels to "come into force".
But DUP leaders said on Friday that May's wording meant the Brexit fix would still be included in the withdrawal agreement that London and Brussels hope to reach in the coming days.
They said May had earlier promised them that it never would.
"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," DUP leader Arlene Foster tweeted.
"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 regu
latory regime." DUP Brexit spokesman Sammy Wilson told Sky News that May was guilty of "total betrayal".
At issue is the vexing prob
lem of how to avoid border checks between British Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland after Brexit enters into force on March 29.
London suggests Britain could temporarily stay aligned with the bloc's trade rules but wants to reserve the right to exit the arrangement.
The EU appears ready to accept that -- but only if there is a fall-backed option written into the withdrawal agreement.