DUP Leader Warns Brexit Locks UK in ‘EU Straitjacket’, Could ‘Break Up’ British Union


Nigel Dodds, who leads Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) in the British Parliament, has warned that Theresa May’s “Brexit in name only” deal with the EU risks “the break up of the United Kingdom.”

The DUP, a Brexit-supporting, working-class party with strong links to local Protestant churches and a fierce commitment to maintaining Ulster’s place in the United Kingdom, is enormously influential in the British legislature at the moment, as Theresa May’s minority government relies on their MPs to get legislation through the House of Commons as part of a “confidence and supply” arrangement.

This could totally collapse as the prime minister’s highly contentious withdrawal agreement with the European Union goes to Parliament for approval, however, with the DUP implacably opposed to “backstop” provisions which they believe will harm the integrity of the United Kingdom by subjecting Northern Ireland to a raft of EU customs rules and regulations in order to keep the border with EU Ireland open.

Writing in the Belfast Telegraph, Dodds warned that the backstop “puts Northern Ireland under swathes of EU laws with no say for anyone in Belfast, or London,” and “creates a trade border down the Irish Sea” between the Province and the British mainland.

“We are heading, under this deal, for Brexit in name only, or the break-up of the United Kingdom,” he added.

Dodds described the deal struck by the prime minister — who, like all senior members of her government, backed Remain in the EU referendum — as “the worst possible outcome” to negotiations with the bloc.

“Leave voters are outraged at the betrayal of Brexit and Remain voters are asking what on earth is the point of losing all our say, but still taking the EU’s rules,” he complained.

The Ulsterman predicted that “Project Fear will now be ramped up and negotiation fatigue will be exploited to try to force people into accepting what the PM always said she would resist: a bad deal.”

Indeed, the Treasury — which promised an “immediate and profound shock” to the economy if the public backed Leave prior to the referendum, including a recession and hundreds of thousands of job losses which did not, in fact, materialise — has already been leaking suggestions that a “No Deal” Brexit would result in a shortage of drinking water and a Mars bar famine, but Dodds is not convinced.

“[P]arliament is being presented with a plan that locks us into an EU straitjacket and leaves us divided and diminished,” he said.

“Our party wants a good deal for the United Kingdom, a deal which delivers upon the referendum result and a deal which ensures that Northern Ireland leaves with the rest of the UK.

“But it is not this deal. It is not a deal at any price.”

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