Northern Irish Kingmakers Tell PM May: Don't Betray the UK

Leroy Wright
November 11, 2018

The letter is seen by some observers, as well as the DUP, as part of a laying of the groundwork by the prime minister for a showdown with the party over checks in British ports, or factories in Northern Ireland or Great Britain.

Without DUP support for a deal, May will have much less chance of getting her deal through parliament.

She spoke out after "frank" exchanges with Cabinet Office minister David Lidington on the differences between the Scottish and United Kingdom governments over their approach to exiting the European Union (EU).

The response of the DUP has caused frustration in Downing Street, with sources insisting that Mrs May was not hiding behind "weasel words" and had stressed that she would not accept a deal which saw Northern Ireland hived off.

The letter from the Prime Minister, leaked to the press, shows that the government is prepared to allow the European Union to carry out regulatory inspections of goods coming into Northern Ireland under the controversial plan to "reverse".

A Downing Street spokesman said the prime minister would not agree to "anything that brings about a hard border on the island of Ireland".

"The PM knows the consequences, she now needs to reconsider", DUP lawmaker Sammy Wilson said.

In the letter, obtained by the Times, Mrs May said: "I am clear that I could not accept there being any circumstances or conditions in which that "backstop to the backstop", which would break up the United Kingdom customs territory, could come in to force".

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Democratic Unionist Party leader Arlene Foster has said Theresa May's no deal-Brexit plan "raises alarm bells".

A huge amount of Ireland's trade with continental Europe passed through Welsh ports and across Britain on its way to Calais, while much of Northern Ireland's trade with the British mainland goes via Dublin port, and alternative routes by boat to Rotterdam, Antwerp and French ports were "much slower", he said.

May depends on the 10 DUP MP votes for a majority in Westminster and will likely need them for any vote on a deal she strikes with Brussels.

But she told the DUP that the European Union is still pushing for a so-called "backstop to the backstop" which would keep the province in regulatory alignment with the Republic of Ireland to avoid a hard border, the Times reported.

Negotiators watching Theresa May's mission to deliver Brexit liken her efforts to the nerve-shatteringly complex 1969 Apollo moon landing.

The summit on the Isle of Man will also be attended by the first ministers of Scotland and Wales, Nicola Sturgeon and Carwyn Jones.

The UK Government Minister for the Department for Exiting the EU - Robin Walker - was at today's meeting.

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