The DUP today accused Theresa May of breaching her pledge never to allow Northern Ireland to be divided from the rest of the United Kingdom after Brexit.
A leaked letter from the prime minister to the party reveals that the government is preparing to allow the European Union to impose specific regulatory checks on goods entering Northern Ireland as part of the controversial backstop.
No 10 hopes a no-deal Brexit would be such a nightmare for both the UK and the continued existence of the Tory Party that dissidents will back the PMs deal. But thats far from certain.
It also suggests that the final withdrawal agreement could contain a mechanism to put a customs border in the Irish Sea if a UK-wide agreement cannot be implemented or falls apart.
The Prime Minister secured Brexit victories on governance and the Irish backstop during her negotiations with Brussels, according to one senior EU diplomat familiar with the talks.
The DUP said that the letter suggested that the prime minister was preparing to break her word to the party, prompting fears they could vote against the agreement in parliament.
Get The International Pack for free for your first 30 days for unlimited Smartphone and Tablet access.
Extracts from the five-page letter, dated November 7 2018, from Theresa May, the prime minister, to Arlene Foster, DUP leader, and Nigel Dodds, deputy DUP leader:
He called for the EU to “massively invest” in the technologies of the future, like artificial intelligence and electric vehicles, to fight climate change by reducing emissions to zero by 2050 and to establish firm protection of external borders against irregular migration.
BREXIT VICTORY: May handed KEY concessions – EU source reveals SHOCK Brussels backtracking
Thank you for your letter of November 1 on the United Kingdoms negotiations with the European Union. Your letter has raised a series of issues about the nature of the backstop.
On never wanting to use the backstopThe backstop is not, and will never be, our preferred outcome. As I said in my statement to parliament last month, it is an insurance policy that no-one in the UK or the EU wants or expects to use. Our overriding priority is to deliver a future partnership between the EU and the whole of the UK…
The issue of the Irish border has proven to be the main stumbling block in the negotiations, with the UK and EU divided over the issue of a backstop, an arrangement designed to prevent a hard border on the island of Ireland.