May’s Ir­ish ally cites ‘be­trayal’

AC­CU­SA­TIONS FLY: SHE‘S BACK­TRACK­ING ON PLEDGE

The Citizen (Gauteng) - - WORLD -

Prime min­is­ter seems to ac­cept Brexit so­lu­tion they fer­vently op­pose.

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

The Times news­pa­per re­ported that May sent a five-page 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 yes­ter­day 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 and for those who want a proper Brexit for the whole UK,” DUP leader Ar­lene Foster tweeted. “It ap­pears the PM is wed­ded to the idea of a bor­der down the Ir­ish Sea with NI [North­ern Ire­land] in the EU SM [sin­gle mar­ket] reg­u­la­tory regime.”

DUP Brexit spokesper­son Sammy Wil­son told Sky News that May was guilty of “to­tal be­trayal”.

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.

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-back op­tion writ­ten into the with­drawal agree­ment. This so-called “back­stop to the back­stop” would see North­ern Ire­land be­come wed­ded to the EU sin­gle mar­ket and cus­toms union should Lon­don and Brus­sels fail to strike a per­ma­nent trade deal.

This would then re­quire ad­di­tional checks on goods and agri­cul­ture flow­ing be­tween North­ern Ire­land and main­land Bri­tain along the Ir­ish Sea.

The dis­agree­ment un­der­scores the dif­fi­cul­ties a smooth Brexit faces, even if Lon­don and Brus­sels agree the terms of a di­vorce deal.

May was due to meet French Pres­i­dent Em­manuel Macron yes­ter­day in France. But she needs the DUP sup­port at home once the deal – if any – comes up for ap­proval in par­lia­ment. Some eu­roscep­tics in her Con­ser­va­tive Party are al­ready threat­en­ing to vote against it be­cause it could lock Bri­tain into a long-term cus­toms ar­range­ment with the EU.

May’s loss of DUP back­ing could see the gov­ern­ment lose the Brexit vote in par­lia­ment and face early elec­tions. –

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