The Prime Minister held compromise talks with the DUP, as well as Brexiteers, as she hopes changes to the legal advice could change the minds of MPs and mean they support her deal. Her DUP allies said changes to the controversial Irish border backstop, in her latest EU deal she put to parliament, did not go far enough to win their support. Mrs May’s latest withdrawal treaty was rejected by MPs for a second time on Tuesday and the EU has refused to negotiate further on the issue.
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The Westminster DUP leader Nigel Dodds and two other DUP MPs met with members of the Government to discuss what it would take for the MPs to back the deal in a third vote.
The Eurosceptic European Research Group has hinted it will back the Brexit deal if the DUP supports it. That could help Theresa May get her deal over the line.
Chairman Jacob Rees-Mogg told the Guardian’s Focus podcast: “Yes. I am a unionist but it is difficult for me to be more unionist than the DUP and if they are happy with the way of getting out of the backstop and that is good enough for Northern Ireland then I expect it would be good enough for some of us.”
This comes as DUP Brexit spokesman Sammy Wilson has said Mrs May’s EU withdrawal bill is dead and should not be put to parliament again.
Mr Wilson said to the BBC: “She will not succeed for a third time, she needs to make clear to the EU that this deal is now dead.”
Before the vote on Tuesday, the DUP released a statement saying: “We want to see a deal which works for every part of the United Kingdom.
“We will support the right deal which respects the referendum and Northern Ireland’s place as an integral party of the United Kingdom.”
The 2017 general election and the Conservative Party’s lack of a majority has left the DUP taking the role of kingmakers as Mrs May relies on their support.
A senior Conservative Brexiteer said to The Times: “I think what is being discussed could do enough to reassure the Democratic Unionist Party that there is a unilateral way out of the backstop.
“If the DUP were content with the deal then significant numbers of the ERG will go where the DUP go.”
According to The Times, a senior Brexiteer said that the DUP and many in the ERG could have voted with the government on Tuesday had Mr Cox referenced Article 62 of the convention.
Mrs May has warned Brexit could be delayed if her deal is not accepted.