The DUP accused Prime Minister Theresa May of breaking her promise over the backstop arrangement following the publication of the full legal advice on Brexit. Deputy party leader Nigel Dodds said the current plan which could see an “indefinite” backstop, would be “devastating” for the UK. Following the full release of the advice, he tweeted: “The legal advice just published proves NI (Northern Ireland) would be in full EU Customs Union while GB (Great Britain) is not.” This spells bad news for Mrs May, who is relying on the DUP to prop up votes in the Commons – and needs them to help her pass her Brexit deal next Tuesday.
Tory former chief whip Mark Harper said earlier today if the EU exit deal were to be passed without DUP support, it would lead to a complete breakdown of the two parties’ relationship.
He said: “If this deal were voted through next week, it is my belief having listened carefully to what they’ve said, that the relationship between our DUP allies and the Prime Minister would be fractured beyond repair.”
Will DUP vote down Theresa May’s Brexit deal?
Nigel Dodds tonight told ITV’s Robert Peston his party will vote against the deal on Tuesday – but the DUP will back Mrs May in a motion of no confidence.
The DUP Westminster leader said: “We will be voting against the Brexit plan as things stand.
“I can’t see much being changed that will be effective.
“We will vote against her plan because it is bad for the United Kingdom, certainly bad for Northern Ireland given the legal advice that we have forced out of the Government today.
“Clearly if that is defeated, it would be somewhat illogical – having achieved our aim trying to get to a better deal – it would be illogical then to turn around the next day and say ‘let’s vote the Government out’.
“I think then we start on a process to try to get a better deal.”
Should the deal be ditched, Mrs May is likely to face a no-confidence vote in Parliament.
This could result in either a general election or a second referendum on leaving the EU.
Labour is believed to favour a second referendum.
What is the backstop arrangement about?
The backstop issue, which has so far proved to be one of the biggest sticking points in Brexit negotiations, is about trade agreements concerned with the Irish border
It is effectively a legal agreement stopping a hard border being put in place between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland once the UK leaves the EU.
But the UK and the EU are at loggerheads over the terms of what the agreement should be – and time is running out.
You can read more about this in our simple Brexit backstop explained guide