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- Theresa May will not meet the DUP’s leader Arlene Foster on Tuesday, delaying any chance of a Brexit deal.
- DUP source says the party is not close to agreeing something with the government on the Irish border.
- Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson calls for the whole of the UK to have regulatory alignment with the EU after Brexit
LONDON – DUP leader Arlene Foster will not meet with Theresa May on Tuesday, meaning the stalemate over the Irish border after Brexit will continue.
The party’s Westminster leader, Nigel Dodds, will instead meet the government chief whip Julian Smith in an attempt to sort an agreement over Northern Ireland’s status once the UK leaves the European Union.
The prime minister will also speak to Foster and Sinn Féin leader Michelle O’Neill on the phone to discuss Brexit plans, a Downing Street spokesperson told Business Insider.
A source told the Telegraph that the DUP did not “think it would be productive for Arlene to be there today,” as there was still so much work to be done to achieve a deal.
The source said: “Arlene will come in when they are close to agreeing something. There is such a level of work to be done at the moment – it is not at a stage where Arlene would be involved as leader.”
This puts the prime minister’s planned trip to Brussels on Wednesday in doubt. May wanted to meet with EU officials in order to reach “sufficient progress” over the Irish border, citizens’ rights and the financial settlement before a crucial summit next week.
EU heads of state will meet at the European Council to decide whether “sufficient progress” has been made in phase one of Brexit talks in order to allow negotiations to begin on trade.
If “sufficient progress” isn’t met, Brexit negotiations will be delayed even further, not allowing discussions about transition or trade to start, and throwing the whole process into disrepute.
Davidson says the government should not divide the country
Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson has called for the whole of the UK to have regulatory alignment with the EU if that is what is needed to continue a “frictionless” Irish border.
Davidson also rejected any idea that an area of the UK should have a different deal to another part, after reports on Monday suggested that Northern Ireland would be allowed to have closer regulatory alignment with Ireland and the EU than the rest of the UK.
In a statement, she said: “No government of the Conservative and Unionist party should countenance any deal that compromises the political, economic or constitutional integrity of the United Kingdom.
“All sides agree there should be no return to the borders of the past between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Similarly, jeopardising the UK’s own internal market is in no-one’s interest.
“If regulatory alignment in a number of specific areas is the requirement for a frictionless border, then the prime minister should conclude this must be on a UK-wide basis.”
There are 13 Scottish Conservative MPs in Westminster, who could force the government to change its course following Davidson’s intervention.