Theresa May is set to address her Cabinet with her agreed Brexit deal this afternoon. The deal is supposed to set out the future relationship between the UK and the EU and the draft is believed to include a guarantee there will new physical border checks in Northern Ireland. But Mrs May may have an uphill struggle on her hands as she takes the draft to Cabinet today.
And the DUP could be about to make the battle even more tense.
Leader of the Democratic Unionist Party Arlene Foster has warned she won’t accept a Brexit deal that will treat Northern Ireland differently to the rest of the UK.
The DUP have threatened to withdraw from the confidence and supply deal if Mrs May bows down to demands from Ireland and the EU.
Mrs Foster also said the Irish government has “highjacked” Brexit negotiations in order to promote a united Ireland.
A senior party source told Sky News today: “The UK Government knows that any agreement with the EU that Northern Ireland should stay in the single market or the customs union or its regulatory equivalent would be deeply destabilising to the confidence and supply agreement.”
The party, whose 10 MPs are helping to prop up the minority Government, says they don’t want to see a border in the Irish sea.
They argue this would keep Northern Ireland in the EU.
The EU reportedly wants an “all-Ireland” solution which would see Northern Ireland adopt similar rules to the Single Market and Customs Union.
Who are the DUP?
The Democratic Unionist Party was founded by Protestant Ian Paisley and is now the largest in Northern Ireland.
The party is pro-union and pro-Brexit, but also have conservative views on issues such as gay marriage and abortian.
The party keeps the minority Tory government in power following the party’s humiliating defeat in the 2017 General Election.
This means the DUP’s MPs vote with the Conservative government on key measures such as the Budget or any votes of no confidence that may hinder the government.
After joining forces with Mrs Foster last year, Mrs May said: “We will continue to work with our friends and allies in the Democratic Unionist Party in particular.
“Our two parties have enjoyed a strong relationship over many years, and this gives me the confidence to believe that we will be able to work together in the interests of the whole United Kingdom.”