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DUP accuses Theresa May of ‘total betrayal’ over Brexit backstop



Arlene Foster Nigel Dodds
DUP leader Arlene Foster
(right) with DUP MP Nigel Dodds.

Charles McQuillan/Getty Images

  • Theresa May accused of “total betrayal” over plans to
    accept a Northern Ireland-only backstop in the Brexit
  • The Democratic Unionist Party which props up the
    fragile and divided Conservative government is furious after
    receiving a letter from May which that refused to rule out a
    backstop for Northern Ireland alone.
  • The DUP hates the Northern Ireland-only backstop as it
    would create an array of new checks between Northern Ireland
    and the rest of the UK.
  • DUP leader Arlene Foster said May’s letter “raises
    alarm bells for those who value the integrity of our precious
  • May will meet with European leaders today as Brexit
    talks approach a conclusion.


LONDON — Theresa May has been accused of “total betrayal” after
she revealed that she is likely to give into EU demands for a
Northern Ireland-only “backstop” that could risk a post-Brexit
border in the Irish sea.

Democratic Unionist Party leader Arlene Foster told The Times that a letter
she received from May this week about the Brexit Withdrawal
Agreement “raises alarm bells for those who value the integrity
of our precious Union.”

“It appears the prime minister is wedded to the idea of a border
down the Irish Sea with Northern Ireland in the EU single market
regulatory regime,” Foster, who leads the DUP’s 10 MPs in
Westminster, added.

Sammy Wilson, the DUP’s Brexit spokesperson, accused May of
“total betrayal” and ditching the “promises she made” the party
which has already threatened to withdraw its support for the
embattled prime minister.

In a letter to the DUP sent this week, May said the EU was
insisting that a backstop which keeps Northern Ireland wedded to
the single market and customs union is included in the deal
currently being negotiated in Brussels.

This backstop — designed to avoid a hard border on the island of
Ireland — would be the last resort option and come into effect
only if future trade negotiations failed to produce a solution
for preserving the open Irish border.

The DUP loathes this version of the backstop as it would create
new customs and regulatory checks between Northern Ireland and
the rest of the UK, and force Northern Ireland to follow EU rules
in which it would have no say.

May has asked for a UK-wide backstop to be included in the
Withdrawal Agreement instead of the EU’s preferred Northern
Ireland-only policy. This would prevent new customs checks
between Northern Ireland and Great Britain.

However, while the EU is willing to include a UK-wide backstop,
it is adamant that the Northern Ireland-only backstop must be
included too, to ensure the status quo in Ireland is maintained
in all circumstances.

May’s letter to the DUP said that she “could not accept there
being any circumstances or conditions” for the Northern
Ireland-only backstop coming into effect. However, she did not
rule out the backstop being signed into the Brexit deal.

Emmanuel Macron Theresa May
Emmanuel Macron (left) and
Theresa May.

Leon Neal/Getty

A Brexit deal is currently being thrashed out in Brussels amid
talk of a final agreement in the next week.

A senior EU source told Business Insider that “all of the
activity is in London” with May desperate to get her Cabinet and
Parliament as a whole on board with the terms of the UK’s
departure from the EU.

Prime Minister May already has a challenge on her hands in
getting a Brexit Withdrawal Agreement through Westminster this
winter with a majority of Labour MPs and some Conservatives set
to vote against it.

However, without the support of the 10 DUP MPs in the House of
Commons, May’s task would be even harder.

May will meet Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel on this
morning before heading to France where she will meet President
Emmanuel Macron, who is one of EU’s the most hardline leaders
when it comes to Brexit.

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