The DUP has officially ruled out backing Theresa May’s Brexit deal, despite the prime minister securing what she described as “legally binding changes” from the EU last night.
In a hammer blow to the PM’s hopes of getting her revised withdrawal agreement through the Commons today, the DUP has made it clear that it is not satisfied with the progress she has made.
It comes after Attorney General Geoffrey Cox warned that, while the PM’s last-minute agreements with Brussels “reduce the risk” that the UK could be trapped indefinitely in the backstop, they do not remove it altogether.
The hardline Tory Brexiteer group the ERG has also indicated that it will not support the deal as it currently stands.
In a statement this afternoon, a DUP spokesman said: “The Prime Minister set out a clear objective for legally binding change which would command a majority in the House of Commons in line with the Brady amendment. We recognise that the Prime Minister has made limited progress in her discussions with the European Union. However in our view sufficient progress has not been achieved at this time.
“Having carefully considered the published material as well as measuring what has been achieved against our own fundamental tests, namely the impact of the backstop on the constitutional and economic integrity of the Union of the United Kingdom, it is clear that the risks remain that the UK would be unable to lawfully exit the backstop were it to be activated.
“The Attorney General’s legal advice is clear in his last paragraph: ‘the legal risk remains unchanged that if through no such demonstrable failure of either party, but simply because of intractable differences, that situation does arise, the United Kingdom would have, at least while the fundamental circumstances remained the same, no internationally lawful means of exiting the protocol’s arrangements, save by agreement’.” The party also accused the EU of being “intransigent”, adding: “It is possible to reach a sensible deal which works for the United Kingdom and the European Union but it will require all sides to be reasonable and in deal making mode.”