PM humiliating herself and making NI a sacrificial lamb, say DUP MPs

The DUP have savaged Theresa May in a heated Commons session, after she cancelled a planned vote on her own Brexit deal in order to go back to speak to EU negotiators.

The Prime Minister, just before 6.30pm tonight, rounded off a three-hour long grilling from MPs about her Brexit plan after announcing to the House that tomorrow’s much-anticipated vote on her plans was going to be cancelled.

Sammy Wilson addressing Theresa May today

Sammy Wilson addressing Theresa May today

She did not say precisely when such a vote may be rescheduled, but told MPs that she was to seek EU assurances that the Irish border backstop will not be permanent.

The benches were packed, with huge numbers of MPs rising to speak on the issue.

Among them was Sammy Wilson, DUP East Antrim MP and party Brexit spokesman, who declared: “Shortly after the Prime Minister announced there’d be no vote on this issue, Michele Barnier and the taoiseach of the Irish Republic slapped down the idea that there’d be any re-negotiation of this deal.

“The Prime Minister may be prepared to be humiliated by arrogant EU officials and by Irish politicians, but does she not realise that every time she comes back here with her tail between her legs, she humiliates the British people?

“When will she stand up to the EU? And if she’s not prepared to stand up to the EU, then let her have the vote of this house to tell them what we think of their rotten deal.

Fixing a stare towards the DUP benches, she responded: “Can I say to the honourable gentleman that we have stood up to the EU.

“And perhaps one of the good examples of standing up to the EU was our absolute refusal as a government to accept a customs border down the Irish Sea and see the UK separated into two customs territories.

“In February, that was what the EU wanted. They stuck to that until we had argued them out of it in October.

“We’ve stood up to the EU – we’ve got a good deal for the UK.”

Upper Bann DUP MP David Simpson said, with NI-born Labour MP Kate Hoey nodding along on the bench below him, that “assurances will not deliver”.

He asked if she would admit that “in order to get the deal as far as she has got the deal, that Northern Ireland had to be made the sacrificial lamb to placate the Irish republic and the EU?”

“No, that is absolutely not the case,” she responded.

And Jim Shannon, DUP MP for Strangford, later rose to his feet, telling Mrs May “none of your words today have reassured this house, and the gap of mistrust between yourself and myself and the DUP has grown into a chasm” - spurring Mrs May to re-state her both leaving the EU and ensuring there will be no “hard border” on the island of Ireland.

For hours, Mrs May stood and took harsh questions from fellow MPs on both sides of the chamber.

Veteran Labour backbencher Dennis Skinner, said of the PM: “She looks very weak, and she is.

“Mrs Thatcher had a word for it, what she’s done today, F-R-I-T: she’s ‘frit’!”

And Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen (North West Leicestershire) said: “Successful renegotiations require trust and credibility.

“Given the Prime Minister’s breathtaking U-turn today, I put it to her that she’s lost the trust and credibility of the House, lost the trust and credibility of the country and most importantly she’s lost the trust and credibility of the European Union as well.”

However, other Tory MPs did voice support – with senior and long-serving Sir Tory Oliver Letwin saying that in the forthcoming negotiations he hopes she is “sustained by the widespread admiration – not just on these benches, not just amongst Conservatives, but in the country as a whole – for the dignity and perseverance she has shown”.

Another, Andrew Murrison, praised her “truly remarkable” determination to get “the best deal possible”.

And at one point former journalist Julian Knight said that if her deal was rejected, the UK faced the prospect of no deal at all, a permanent arrangement akin to Norway’s relationship with the EU, or a second referendum - saying the latter would be a “stain on the soul of this house”.

Mrs May said that is why MPs must focus on leaving the EU in such a way “the protects jobs and them and their children’s futures”.