- 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.
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.