United Kingdom will not allow Brexit border to split off Northern Ireland

Frederick Owens
November 11, 2018

The Times newspaper reported that May sent a five-page letter on Tuesday to the leaders of Northern Ireland's small Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) that props up her government.

Without DUP support for a deal, May will have much less chance of getting her deal through parliament.

The response of the DUP has caused frustration in Downing Street, with sources insisting that Mrs May was not hiding behind "weasel words" and had stressed that she would not accept a deal which saw Northern Ireland hived off.

May's plan would see the whole United Kingdom effectively agree to remain in the customs union to help avoid a hard border with Ireland as a backstop if no other arrangement can be found.

Tensions between Mrs May and her DUP allies have been exposed amid concerns about measures aimed at avoiding a hard border on the island of Ireland.

"When it comes to Northern Ireland it's very important to listen to, and have regard for, what the DUP has to say - but there are other political parties as well", Mr Varadkar added.

The warning underscores the travails that May faces in getting any Brexit divorce deal, which London and Brussels say is 95 percent done, approved by both her fractious party and by the Northern Irish lawmakers who keep her in power.

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But she told the DUP that the European Union is still pushing for a so-called "backstop to the backstop" which would keep the province in regulatory alignment with the Republic of Ireland to avoid a hard border, the Times reported.

In the five-page letter to Arlene Foster, the DUP leader, and Nigel Dodds, her deputy, Mrs May said the European Union is still pushing for the "backstop to the backstop" but insists that she would never allow a divide between Ulster and Great Britain to "come into force".

The Prime Minister relies on the support of the DUP's 10 MPs for her Commons majority, votes which will be crucial as she attempts to get a deal through Parliament.

The issue is dominating a meeting of the British Irish Council in the Isle Of Man today.

Mr Wilson told Sky News the prime minister is guilty of a "total betrayal" and had gone back on "the promises she made".

The UK government has so far proposed a backstop - with an expected end date of 2021 - which would effectively keep the whole of the UK in the EU customs union for a limited period after Brexit.

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon was among the leaders at the Isle of Man summit and urged Tory leaders to consider keeping the whole of the United Kingdom in the single market, warning that Brexit has highlighted "real weaknesses" in the UK's devolution settlement.

Other reports by LeisureTravelAid

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