DUP will offer PM flexibility during Brexit talks

Lagan Valley MP, Sir Jeffrey Donaldson
Lagan Valley MP, Sir Jeffrey Donaldson

A senior DUP MP says his party is prepared to offer the prime minister some flexibility to negotiate the best Brexit deal.

The prime minister’s Brexit negotiating plan has left her with “no room to manoeuvre”, the DUP’s Sir Jeffrey Donaldson told the BBC today.

Sir Jeffrey said his party was prepared to give Theresa May “some leeway to try and negotiate the best deal”.

The government published its blueprint for UK relations with the EU last week, which was described as Tory Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg as a “bad deal for Britain”.

But Mrs May, who relies on the DUP for a Commons majority on key votes, urged her critics to support her plans.

Her White Paper aims to ensure trade co-operation, with no hard border for Northern Ireland, and global trade deals for the UK. Her proposals sparked the resignations of Boris Johnson and David Davis in recent days.

Speaking on the BBC’s Sunday Politics programme, Sir Jeffrey said his party had studied the White Paper and would meet the government this week to “put forward any concerns”.

“We are entitled to put forward our views,” he said.

“The White Paper is a negotiating position - not the final outcome. It’s important for us that our red lines have clarity.”

No deal was better than a bad deal, he added.

His amendment to effectively kill off any idea of an Irish Sea border was “sensible” and he hoped the government would adopt it, he said.

“It’s important to have it in the legislation - it’s entirely consistent with what the prime minister has said,” he said.

The prime minister’s plan was welcomed by his party leader Arlene Foster.

“As far as we are concerned, there has always been the one red line in relation to borders between ourselves and the United Kingdom and we are content that that has been reflected at the Chequers summit and also by the White Paper,” she said.