Brexit: DUP kills off Theresa May’s hopes it will rescue her deal – ‘nothing has changed’

‘We will not accept any deal which poses a long-term risk to the constitutional and economic integrity of the United Kingdom’

Rob Merrick
Deputy Political Editor
Friday 22 March 2019 20:08
'I do not believe that we should be revoking Article 50' Theresa May speaks after EU agrees plan to delay Brexit

The Democratic Unionist Party has appeared to read the last rites on Theresa May’s Brexit deal by saying “nothing has changed” ahead of a third and final meaningful vote.

The party propping up the Tories in power, and whose support is essential to any hopes the prime minister has of rescuing her agreement, scotched any prospect of it switching sides.

It also echoed the language of Brexiteer Tories by accusing her of being “far too willing to capitulate” to the EU, after the agreement to delay withdrawal this week.

And it attacked Ms May’s disastrous Downing Street speech on Wednesday night for “putting the blame on others” instead of accepting her own “responsibility for the current debacle”.

“The prime minister has now agreed with the EU to kick the can down the road for another two weeks and humiliatingly revoke her oft-stated pledge that the UK would leave the EU on 29 March,” said Nigel Dodds, the DUP’s deputy leader.

On the deal itself, he said: “Nothing has changed as far as the withdrawal agreement is concerned.

“Nothing fundamentally turns on the formal ratification of documents which the attorney general has already said do not change the risk of the UK being trapped in the backstop.”

Mr Dodds said his party would only support “a deal that protects the union”, adding: “That remains our abiding principle.

“We will not accept any deal which poses a long-term risk to the constitutional and economic integrity of the United Kingdom.”

Without DUP support, scores of anti-EU Tories will continue to oppose the deal – threatening another three-figure defeat and a fresh Brexit crisis.

Ministers refused to say when the final vote would take place, but it is understood that No 10 is gearing up to bring Ms May’s deal back to the Commons on Tuesday, or possibly Wednesday.

MPs and peers must pass legislation to change the date of Brexit from 29 March by Friday, in secondary legislation that must be brought forward by Thursday.

Before then, a cross-party group of backbenchers will attempt, on Monday, to commandeer the Commons business for Wednesday, to trigger a series of indicative votes on the best way forward.

The Monday amendment is expected to succeed, after losing by only two votes last week, given the escalating fears about a no-deal Brexit.

One suggestion is for MPs to tick boxes on a piece of paper listing the various Brexit options, perhaps allowing them to show support for more than one, before a winner is announced.

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