- Leon Neal/Getty Images/Charles McQuillan/Getty Images
- The DUP warns May that the party will not accept a Brexit deal that keeps Northern Ireland aligned with the EU.
- May has reportedly agreed with the Irish government that there will be “regulatory alignment” between the island of Ireland and the EU after Brexit.
- DUP accuses Ireland of risking the peace process.
- Downing Street downplays the prospect of a deal today.
LONDON – Theresa May’s chances of securing a Brexit divorce deal could be scuppered by the Democratic Unionist Party after its leader warned the prime minister that she “will not accept” proposals agreed by the UK government over the Irish border.
The UK has reportedly come to an agreement with the Irish government that there will be “regulatory alignment” between Northern Ireland and Ireland, opening the door for Northern Ireland to maintain EU trade rules after Brexit.
However, DUP leader Arlene Foster, whose party has a confidence and supply agreement with May’s Conservative government, warned that she would not stand for any such deal.
“We have been very clear Northern Ireland must leave the European Union on the same terms as the rest of the United Kingdom,” she told reporters.
“And we will not accept any form of regulatory divergence which separates Northern Ireland economically or politically from the rest of the UK. The economic and territorial integrity of the UK must not be compromised in any way.”
She also accused the Irish government of putting the peace process at risk.
“The Republic of Ireland government are trying to change the terms of Belfast agreement without our input or consent, and we will not stand for that,” she said.
Watch Arlene Foster warn May against Irish border deal
Arlene Foster: NI must leavethe EU on the same terms as the rest of the UK pic.twitter.com/u36Iwzb4Vg
— RTÃ0 News (@rtenews) December 4, 2017
Foster was joined in condemning the proposals by the unionist Conservative politician Lord Trimble, who told the BBC that such a deal would be “very bad news for Northern Ireland”.
The development also led to calls from the Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and London Mayor Sadiq Khan, for Scotland and London to also be given a special Brexit deal on the single market and the customs union.
If one part of UK can retain regulatory alignment with EU and effectively stay in the single market (which is the right solution for Northern Ireland) there is surely no good practical reason why others can’t.
— Nicola Sturgeon (@NicolaSturgeon) December 4, 2017
Huge ramifications for London if Theresa May has conceded that it's possible for part of the UK to remain within the single market & customs union after Brexit. Londoners overwhelmingly voted to remain in the EU and a similar deal here could protect tens of thousands of jobs.
— Mayor of London (@MayorofLondon) December 4, 2017
May was due to meet with EU Presidents Jean Claude Juncker and Donald Tusk on Monday amid reports that Britain was 90% of the way to agreeing a deal.
However, Downing Street downplayed the prospect of an immediate deal, with a spokesperson for May saying only that today’s talks are “important staging-post,” adding that “our focus is on making progress at the council in mid-December.”