Brexit: DUP won’t support any deal with customs union, says MP Jim Shannon

The DUP has expressed fears Theresa May could concede to Labour's demand for a customs union with the EU
The DUP has expressed fears Theresa May could concede to Labour's demand for a customs union with the EU

A DUP MP has declared his party will not support any Brexit deal which would see the UK remaining in a customs union with the EU.

Jim Shannon made the remarks yesterday after The Sunday Times reported that Theresa May’s government has a plan to enshrine in law a customs arrangement with Brussels in a bid to win over the opposition Labour Party to back a Brexit deal.

“Under the new plan, the prime minister would offer to rewrite the government’s withdrawal bill to enshrine a customs arrangement in law,” the newspaper said.

The PM is trying to win over the main opposition party after her negotiated Brexit deal was voted down by Parliament on three occasions.

Labour has called for a permanent customs union with the EU and is in talks with the government about reaching a compromise.

Strangford MP Mr Shannon said his party was concerned that Mrs May was preparing to concede to Labour’s demand, after she warned that Brexit could “slip through our fingers” unless a compromise can be found.

He told the News Letter: “We will not support a customs union, as that is not the Brexit people voted for. We will not change our minds.”

Mr Shannon also accused the PM of failing to comprehend the DUP’s psyche regarding the party’s opposition to her Withdrawal Agreement.

“The prime minister never seemed to grasp the issue we have with her Brexit deal, that being the backstop and the threat it poses to the Union,” he said.

“Our bottom line was never her bottom line. It is remarkably disappointing because we pressed that upon her for two years, and at every stage of the way she failed to understood what the issue was.”

Meanwhile, DUP ally and leading Tory Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg called for the UK to be “the most difficult member possible” in the EU if it was “forced to remain in”.

”I don’t think the EU, in its jargon, has behaved towards us with sincere co-operation,” he told Sky News’ Sophy Ridge On Sunday.

“I don’t think sincere co-operation could possibly include trying to break up the unity of a member state when it leaves the EU, and therefore I think we are no longer obliged to follow sincere co-operation in return.

“When the multi-annual financial framework comes forward, if we are still in, this is our one-in-seven year opportunity to veto the budget and to be really very difficult, and I hope that any British prime minister would take that opportunity.”

When asked if the DUP agreed with Mr Rees-Mogg, Mr Shannon said: “We haven’t made a decision on that yet.”