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’No Way’ Northern Irish DUP Will Support May’s Brexit Deal

BOURNEMOUTH, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 15: DUP politician Sammy Wilson, who is Member of Parliament (MP) for East Antrim, speaks at the 'Leave Means Rally' at the Bournemouth International Centre on October 15, 2018 in Bournemouth, England. Leave Means Leave is a pro-Brexit campaign, holding a series of rallies and events …
Matt Cardy/Getty
VICTORIA FRIEDMAN

Sammy Wilson MP has said that there is no way the Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) will support Prime Minister Theresa May’s EU Withdrawal Agreement, which Members of Parliament are due to vote on next week.

The conservative, unionist party had been adamant that it would not support the deal, which includes the Irish backstop that could keep the British province in regulatory alignment with the European Union in order to allegedly fulfil Good Friday Agreement terms to stop a so-called ‘hard border’ with the Republic of Ireland.

The planned vote before Parliament’s Christmas break was postponed in face of certain defeat, with the prime minister working over the intervening weeks to persuade European leaders to offer more assurances on the backstop in an effort to convince MPs to back the deal.

Asked whether there was “any way” the DUP could support the prime minister’s deal, Mr Wilson told Mishal Hussein on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Friday, “No there’s not and it’s not just because the regulations which Northern Ireland will be subject to with the backstop but also the fact that we would have to treat the rest of the United Kingdom as a third country.

“We could not participate in any trade deals which the United Kingdom may enter into in the future and we would find that there would be a border down the Irish Sea would impede trade with our biggest trade partner — Great Britain.”

After the Tories massively miscalculated their support in the 2017 General Election, which left them short of a majority in Parliament, the Conservatives went into a confidence and supply arrangement with the DUP.

Given the DUP’s position and reports that Labour and Tory MPs have also not changed their minds, there is strong possibility that the Government will lack the votes to pass the Brexit deal.

The DUP has maintained that the Irish border issue has been exaggerated and represents attempts by the EU and Ireland to force a unification of the island of Ireland.

Rather than their fears being assuaged by assurances by the UK government and the EU that the backstop would never be triggered, which would be the case if no UK-EU deal were struck by the end of the transition period, Mr Wilson has said that the DUP was “more alarmed by what is coming out from the EU — especially the Irish government who have made it quite clear that they do not see this as some temporary arrangement or some insurance policy.

“But, in fact, [Irish Taoiseach] Leo Varadkar has said in the past two weeks that he sees this as the settled arrangement for the border between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic, namely that Northern Ireland would have to be permanently treated differently than the rest of the United Kingdom when it comes to leaving the EU.”

On the matter of the Good Friday Agreement, the unionist politician noted that “The Irish government has been preparing for a No Deal scenario and in its document… they haven’t mentioned anything about what they would do along the border, what hard infrastructure they would put along the border.

“In fact, they’ve been totally silent on it which confirms in our view that this has been a con trick all along.”

Another possible motive for the Republic of Ireland to threaten a collapse of post-Troubles peace arrangements unless the Withdrawal Agreement passes has been revealed Friday, with the the Irish government admitting it will need “mega-money” in aid to survive the fallout of a no deal Brexit.

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