DUP ac­cuses PM of back­stop be­trayal and warns of con­se­quences

Party says its 10 MPS could vote against Brexit deal af­ter leaked let­ter sug­gests Ir­ish Sea bor­der

The Daily Telegraph - - News - By Steven Swin­ford DEPUTY PO­LIT­I­CAL ED­I­TOR

THE DUP has ac­cused Theresa May of “be­trayal” amid con­cerns she is poised to break her pledge not to al­low North­ern Ire­land to be di­vided from the rest of the UK af­ter Brexit. A leaked let­ter from the Prime Min­is­ter to the DUP sug­gested that the Gov­ern­ment is pre­par­ing to al­low the EU to im­pose spe­cific reg­u­la­tory checks in the Ir­ish Sea in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

The DUP warned Mrs May that the party’s 10 MPS are pre­pared to vote against her Brexit deal in the Com­mons.

Ar­lene Fos­ter, the DUP leader, 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. Sammy Wil­son, the DUP’S Brexit spokesman, said that the move would rep­re­sent a “to­tal be­trayal” and said that there would be “con­se­quences” for the Gov­ern­ment.

The row fo­cuses on the “back­stop” which is in­tended to avoid a hard bor­der be­tween Ire­land and North­ern Ire­land if no deal can be reached on Brexit.

In a let­ter ob­tained by The Times, Mrs May said that she could not ac­cept any cir­cum­stances where the EU’S plans for a back­stop that would see North­ern Ire­land sep­a­rated from the UK “could come into force”. But she ac­knowl­edged that the “unique cir­cum­stances” of North­ern Ire­land “could re­quire spe­cific align­ment so­lu­tions in some sce­nar­ios” on reg­u­la­tions.

The DUP has in­ter­preted the word­ing of her let­ter to mean that North­ern Ire­land-only mea­sures will be con­tained in the Brexit di­vorce deal.

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.”

Sammy Wil­son, the DUP Brexit spokesman, 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 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”. The Prime Min­is­ter re­lies on the sup­port of the DUP’S 10 MPS for her Com­mons ma­jor­ity.

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.”

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