Chancellor Hammond on Brexit visit to NI

Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond making his Budget statement to MPs in the House of Commons. Photo: PA Wire
Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond making his Budget statement to MPs in the House of Commons. Photo: PA Wire

Chancellor Philip Hammond is expected to visit Northern Ireland today for range of meetings, before speaking at the DUP conference.

He is one of two senior Conservative MPs attending the event, the other being leading Brexiteer and former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, who is appearing on Saturday.

International Trade Secretary Liam Fox is also expected to arrive in Northern Ireland today and visit a business in the border area, the BBC reported.

Hammond and Fox back the Prime Minister’s including the Irish backstop plan, which aims to insure against a hard border.

The DUP are opposing the plan, as they believe the Irish backstop will weaken the union, and they are and putting pressure on the minority Tory party in the Commons, which relies on them to pass legislation.

Mr Hammond is expected to arrive in Belfast on Friday afternoon and will address the DUP conference tonight.

Mr Johnston will arrive on Saturday and will also address the DUP conference.

Meanwhile, EU officials are meeting to finalise the draft Brexit deal and address last-minute demands from Spain for a say on future decisions about Gibraltar.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has repeated his opposition to the deal, which is expected to be signed off by member states on Sunday.

No single member state has the power to veto the deal, but Brussels wants unanimous approval.

Prime Minister Theresa May has said a deal is “within our grasp”.

She is appearing on Radio Five this morning in a last minute bid to sell her Brexit agreement with Brussels.