Northern Irish party threatens to topple Theresa May's United Kingdom government

12 October, 2018, 16:30 | Author: Regina Silva
  • Tony Blair

Her signal follows anger among her Democratic Unionist Party allies that the proposals could divide Northern Ireland from the rest of the United Kingdom for customs purposes.

Arlene Foster, the DUP leader, said on Thursday afternoon that the prime minister could not "in good conscience" recommend such a deal and vowed to oppose it. "The prime minister would never agree to a deal which could trap the United Kingdom in a backstop permanently", she said.

Theresa May is under pressure to reverse course after Cabinet ministers threatened to walk out over her reported plans for a potential Brexit "backstop" which could effectively keep Britain permanently inside a Customs Union with the EU after Brexit.

The EU's chief negotiator Michel Barnier on Wednesday said Britain must accept possible checks on goods moving between its mainland and its province of Northern Ireland, saying Brexit would trigger the need for customs, value-added tax and compliance checks with EU standards.

According to reports, worldwide trade minister Liam Fox, home minister Sajid Javid, defence minister Gavin Williamson, foreign minister Jeremy Hunt, environment minister Michael Gove and Brexit minister Dominic Raab have challenged the PM over fears she will accept an unlimited backstop.

British and European Union negotiators are understood to have agreed in principle to an all-UK backstop plan to avoid a hard border in Northern Ireland that would remove the final major obstacle blocking a withdrawal agreement.

"I am not surprised at the DUP. I sympathize with her on that but there is no answer to that problem", he told the audience.

The Northern Irish party that British Prime Minister Theresa May's government relies on for support says it will consider backing a vote of no-confidence if May agrees to European Union checks on goods entering the region post-Brexit.

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Mr Major famously branded rebellious Eurosceptics during his premiership "b*****s", but said those making life hard for Mrs May were even worse.

He added: "Agreement is within reach if we have the negotiations on October 17 at the next council meeting".

In a move seen by some as a warning shot, DUP MPs failed to back the British government in voting against a Labour amendment to an Agriculture Bill outlining post-Brexit reforms last night.

Former Prime Minister Sir John Major, meanwhile, has said he has "great sympathy" for Mrs May, telling the BBC's Political Thinking podcast that "the way she's being treated by some of her colleagues is absolutely outrageous".

This, however, would raise the prospect of increased regulation checks between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.

He hit out the "not so subliminal bullying" by Tories opposing her strategy in the middle of negotiations and also criticised International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt, who declined to give the PM's plan her explicit backing when asked earlier this week.

"If people are sitting in cabinet they either support the government's policy or they don't sit in cabinet", Sir John said.

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