Nigel Dodds: Humiliating Brexit delay down to inept handling of negotiations

DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds said the latest Brexit delay 'wan another embarrassment' for the UK
DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds said the latest Brexit delay 'wan another embarrassment' for the UK

Theresa May has “humiliated” the UK by accepting a six-month delay to Brexit, DUP Westminster leader Nigel Dodds has said.

The so called ‘flexible’ extension to October 31 was a compromise solution thrashed out by EU leaders after French President Emmanuel Macron dug in against a longer delay lasting into 2020.

The deal has drawn sharp criticism from Tory Eurosceptics and prompted questions about how long Mrs May can stay in power.

DUP Brexit spokesperson Sammy Wilson – whose party keeps the minority Tory administration in power – said Mrs May’s credibility as PM is now in question.

And in a scathing assessment, DUP deputy leader Mr Dodds said the extension to Halloween was “another embarrassment for the UK”, adding that the move has led to “much concern and anger” at Westminster.

The North Belfast MP told the News Letter: “It was inevitable, after she decided that any deal is preferable to no deal, that Mrs May would have to accept whatever extension the EU gave her.”

He added: “It is a humiliating position for the British government to be in, but it is a position which it has created for itself through its inept handling of the negotiations.

“It is bizarre that three years after the referendum result we are going to end up in a situation where we are still in the EU and fighting European elections. It is entirely the result of the way the negotiations have been carried out.”

Under the terms of the extension, if Mrs May finally gets her Withdrawal Agreement approved by the House of Commons the UK could leave the EU earlier than the October 31 deadline.

When asked if he thought the latest Brexit delay would increase the likelihood that Mrs May’s Withdrawal Agreement – complete with the controversial Irish border backstop arrangement – would be voted through Parliament, Mr Dodds replied: “I don’t think the delay makes it any more or any less likely that the Withdrawal Agreement will go through.

“I don’t think it settles anything, it simply prolongs the current limbo and uncertainty, which is the one thing people are keen to see ended, as it is bad for everyone.”

Mr Dodds reiterated that the DUP would not back her Brexit deal unless the party’s concerns over the backstop are addressed.

“The fundamental problem is still the backstop. If it were addressed things could move on to the next stage of the talks,” he added.

Mr Dodds’ remarks came as DUP leader Arlene Foster and MEP Diane Dodds held a meeting with the European Union’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier.

“Arlene and Diane will reinforce to Mr Barnier that the unionist position in all this has not been properly taken on board by the EU,” he added.

“They have listened far too much to the Irish government and have disrespected the terms of the Belfast and St Andrews agreements.”