MAY ON THE BRINK: DUP ‘Could Withdraw Support Over Irish Border’
Odds on an early election, possibly as soon as next year, have tumbled as a Democratic Unionist Party suggested that the DUP could withdraw its support from Theresa May’s floundering minority government over the issue of ‘convergence’ between Northern Ireland and the Republic as part of the final Brexit settlement.
A report in The Times claimed that British negotiators had put forward a proposal to devolve powers to Northern Ireland to enable “customs convergence” with the Republic in areas such as agriculture and energy in an attempt to break the deadlock and sources in Dublin claimed there has been “movement” on the issue.
DUP MP for East Antrim, Sammy Wilson, hit out at the rumoured proposal:
“If there is any hint that in order to placate Dublin and the EU, they’re prepared to have Northern Ireland treated differently than the rest of the UK, then they can’t rely on our vote”
His hardline stance was backed up in a statement from Arlene Foster, the leader of the DUP:
“There can be no arrangements agreed that compromise the integrity of the UK single market” and place barriers, real or perceived, to the free movement of goods, services and capital between Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom.”
If the DUP were to withdraw their support from the government then it is hard to see how they would be able to pass the measures necessary to enact Brexit as it, along with financial measures, ie, the Budget was the focus of the confidence and supply deal they did with the government. An early election would then become inevitable.