Theresa May: some regulatory divergence between the North and Britain already in place

DUP attacks prime minister’s Brexit deal as PM visits North

British prime minister Theresa May leaving Queen’s University in Belfast, during her visit to Northern Ireland. Photograph: Liam McBurney/PA Wire

British prime minister Theresa May leaving Queen’s University in Belfast, during her visit to Northern Ireland. Photograph: Liam McBurney/PA Wire

 

The DUP ruled out backing Theresa May’s Brexit deal as the British prime minister visited the North on Tuesday in a bid to win public support for her agreement.

Arlene Foster, leader of the Democratic Unionists who prop up Ms May’s Conservative government, said it was “offensive” to suggest her party is bluffing in its opposition to the prime minister’s Brexit plan, or that it may back it in exchange for extra cash for Northern Ireland.

Mrs May’s visit to Belfast today will be a “waste of time” if she refuses to listen to calls to drop the backstop, which potentially ties the North to the EU, Ms Foster told Bloomberg.

“This is about the future of Northern Ireland constitutionally and economically and therefore we will not be supporting the deal in its current format.”

She also appeared to reject the idea the DUP could back the deal, which will be put to a House of Commons vote on December 11th, if Mrs May agrees to a common rule book between the Britain and EU, which might be enough to avoid barriers between Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom.

The difficulty is that such political declarations aren’t politically binding, the DUP leader, unlike the Withdrawal Agreement.

Mrs May rejected claims from the DUP leader that she had “given up” on getting a better Brexit deal.

“We have been resisting many of the things the European Union had wanted to put,” Mrs May said. “When you negotiate, neither side gets 100 per cent of what they want, it is about compromising, but you have to be clear about what your vital interests are, and we have protected those vital interests and that includes protecting the interests of the people of Northern Ireland.”

Northern Ireland’s business leaders had already warned the UK leaving the EU without a deal would be “disastrous” for the North.

The prime minister is meeting students, academics and community and religious leaders at an event at Queen’s University Belfast before meeting representatives from the DUP, Sinn Féin, the SDLP, the Ulster Unionist Party and Alliance. – Bloomberg, PA