DUP con­firms it will scup­per deal...and Boris warns we’re sail­ing into ice­berg

Sunday Express - - HISTORIC MOMENT IN BATTLE FOR BREXIT - By David Mad­dox

NORTH­ERN Ire­land’s big­gest party has dealt a blow to Theresa May by con­firm­ing yes­ter­day that its 10 MPs will op­pose her Brexit deal be­cause it threat­ens to break up the UK.

Demo­cratic Union­ist Party leader Ar­lene Foster told her party’s an­nual con­fer­ence in Belfast that they would also “re­visit” the con­fi­dence and sup­ply deal, sup­port­ing the Con­ser­va­tives, be­cause of their con­cerns.

Her threat was a slap in the face for Chan­cel­lor Philip Ham­mond who had pleaded with the DUP and had told del­e­gates in Ul­ster that the deal was “bet­ter than EU mem­ber­ship”.

But there was a much warmer wel­come for Brex­i­teer Boris John­son. In a barn­storm­ing per­for­mance he mocked plans for a new “Ukni”, or United King­dom North­ern Ire­land en­tity to re­place North­ern Ire­land. He also vowed to de­fend the Union.

In un­com­pro­mis­ing lan­guage, Mrs Foster made it clear she would not be cowed by Down­ing Street.

Speak­ing to broad­cast­ers, Mrs Foster warned that the draft Brexit deal would leave the UK “a piti­ful and pa­thetic place”.

Later in her key­note speech, she told mem­bers the con­sti­tu­tional im­pli­ca­tions for the draft EU deal “can­not be ig­nored”.

“The Demo­cratic Union­ist Party has never been afraid to say yes when it is right to do so, nor to say no when re­quired,” she said.

“We do not stand alone on these is­sues, with a large num­ber of Con­ser­va­tives – both those who voted Leave and Re­main – not per­suaded. Even Jeremy Cor­byn isn’t buy­ing the sea bor­der.

“This party wants to see a ne­go­ti­ated and or­derly with­drawal from the Euro­pean Union. That has al­ways been our po­si­tion. We are not cam­paign­ing for a no-deal exit nor do we want bar­ri­ers to trade be­tween North­ern Ire­land and our neigh­bours in the Repub­lic. The choice is not be­tween this deal and no deal, de­spite what the Gov­ern­ment spin ma­chine may say.

“The re­al­ity is that if we are to se­cure a bet­ter out­come than is cur­rently on of­fer, then the only op­tion is to look be­yond this cur­rent draft with­drawal agree­ment and work for an im­proved out­come.”

Ms Foster added that the party wants an out­come that does not leave North­ern Ire­land open to the per­ils of di­ver­gence away from the rest of the UK and one which works to the ben­e­fit of all parts of the na­tion.

“The days and weeks ahead will be chal­leng­ing. We will con­tinue to work in Par­lia­ment to achieve the best pos­si­ble deal for North­ern Ire­land and the UK as a whole, guided by our prin­ci­ples and ob­jec­tives.” Mean­while, DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds, one of the party’s 10 MPs, told the Prime Min­is­ter it is not too late to bin her deal. He in­sisted the union of Great Bri­tain and North­ern Ire­land is “non-ne­go­tiable”.

“It is still not too late for the Prime Min­is­ter to change course,” he said. “Don’t be­lieve the pro­pa­ganda that it’s too late – it isn’t. The DUP wants a deal with the EU, we un­der­stand that busi­nesses, fam­i­lies and com­mu­ni­ties want cer­tainty. But it is not this deal. It is not a deal at any price. The Prime Min­is­ter used to say that. We still say that. So Prime Min­is­ter, the mes­sage from this con­fer­ence, from ev­ery sec­tion of this party is – bin the back­stop.” Ear­lier, Mr John­son, who re­signed as for­eign sec­re­tary over Mrs May’s Che­quers plans, was cheered as he vowed to pro­tect the Union.

He said the EU had achieved a “very clever trick” by mak­ing North­ern Ire­land an “in­dis­pens­able bar­gain­ing chip” in fu­ture ne­go­ti­a­tions, not­ing the ref­er­ence to the po­ten­tial need to la­bel goods from North­ern Ire­land UK (NI) un­der the back­stop pro­posal.

“In­deed if you read the with­drawal agree­ment, you can see that we are wit­ness­ing the birth of a new coun­try called Ukni,” he said. “Ukni is no longer ex­clu­sively ruled by London or Stor­mont. Ukni is, in large part, to be ruled by Brus­sels. And Ukni will have to ac­cept large swathes of EU reg­u­la­tions now and in the fu­ture.

“On lawn­mower noise, on the la­belling of sar­dines, on the use of coins and to­kens that may be deemed to re­sem­ble a euro.

“And on the use of per­sonal recre­ational wa­ter­craft. And nowhere has a more il­lus­tri­ous his­tory than North­ern Ire­land when it comes to the cre­ation of recre­ational wa­ter­craft. The Ti­tanic springs to mind, and now is the time to point out the ice­berg ahead.”

Mr Ham­mond brought the Trea­sury’s Project Fear mes­sage to the con­fer­ence. He warned that a no-deal Brexit would un­leash “eco­nomic chaos”, adding: “If the mean­ing­ful vote is lost we are in un­charted ter­ri­tory. We will be faced with po­ten­tial eco­nomic chaos. I am sure we would get a very neg­a­tive re­ac­tion from the busi­ness com­mu­nity, from in­vestors, from the mar­kets.”

Pic­tures: CHARLES McQUILLAN & PAUL FAITH/Getty

POW­ER­FUL: Ar­lene Foster warned Theresa May, while Boris John­son at­tacked Brus­sels at the DUP con­fer­ence in Belfast yes­ter­day

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