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DUP threatens to bring down Theresa May’s government over Brexit deal

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Theresa May Arlene Foster
Prime Minister Theresa May
and DUP leader Arlene Foster.

Clodagh
Kilcoyne – WPA Pool/Getty Images


  • The DUP is threatening to abandon Theresa May if MPs
    vote on whether to get rid of her.
  • The Northern Irish party is reportedly prepared to risk
    a general election and Jeremy Corbyn-led government in order to
    torpedo the prime minister’s Brexit deal with the European
    Union.
  • Labour has vowed to move a no confidence vote against
    the government if May’s deal is defeated next week.
  • The prime minister will on Monday make another speech
    to MPs in an attempt to sell her deal.
  • Attorney General Geoffrey Cox will also reveal to MPs
    highly-anticipated legal advice on the Brexit
    backstop.
  • However, the government is refusing to publish the
    advice in full, risking a constitutional stand-off with
    MPs.

 

LONDON — A snap general election could be on its way after the
Democratic Unionist Party, which props up Theresa May’s
government, threatened to trigger a general election in order to
kill her Brexit divorce deal.

Shadow Brexit Secretary Sir Keir Starmer
told Sky News on Sunday
it was “inevitable” that Labour would
move a no confidence motion in May’s government if MPs vote down
her deal on Tuesday, December 11. 

Now the DUP is preparing to withdraw its support for the prime
minister in such a vote if, as expected, MPs vote to reject her
Brexit deal next week, according to The Times.

In this scenario, May would be without the thin parliamentary
advantage she’s had since the 2017 general election and at risk
of a majority of MPs voting to get rid of her. For the DUP,
Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour winning a possible subsequent election is
more palatable than the deal which May has agreed with the EU,
the report suggests.

The DUP loathes the Withdrawal Agreement because under the
backstop proposal for avoiding a hard Irish border, Northern
Ireland would stick to parts of the single market, creating new
border checks with rest of the UK.

The party, that has 10 MPs in Westminster, has already abstained
on a number of parliamentary votes in recent weeks in a warning
to the prime minister that they are not bluffing about their
threats to abandon her.


Theresa MayPaul Ellis – WPA Pool/Getty
Images

An increasingly restless DUP is just one thing for May to worry
about this week. 

On Tuesday, a five-day debate on her Brexit deal will get
underway prior to the meaningful vote next week. MPs from all
sides are set to chastise her deal with some estimates suggesting
a landslide defeat of over 100 MPs.

Today the prime minister will resume her efforts to sell the
deal, telling MPs about her visit to the G20 summit in Argentina
over the weekend and the free trade deals the UK will be able to
sign around the world after Brexit.

“For the first time in more than 40 years we will have an
independent trade policy,” she will tell MPs.

Exactly how “independent” the UK’s trade policy will be
after Brexit is just one of the concerns among pro-Brexit MPs.
Under the backstop, the UK will be in a customs union with the
EU, meaning its trading ability will be limited.

Attorney General Geoffrey Cox will today reveal to MPs at
least some of the legal advice he has given to the government
about the controversial backstop policy, including what it would
mean for the UK’s trade policy.

MPs are particularly concerned about the backstop element of
May’s deal because it would keep the UK in a customs union with
the EU after Brexit indefinitely, with no fixed end date or
unilateral right to get out of it.

However, Cox is not set to disclose his legal advice in full,
despite the government seemingly
agreeing to do so last month
. Labour has threatened to join
forces with other opposition parties, including the DUP, and
write to Commons Speaker John Bercow accusing the government of
contempt of Parliament if it doesn’t publish the advice in
full. 

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