Senior DUP figures have emphasisied their implacable opposition to the government doing anything which sees Northern Ireland diverging from the rest of the UK after Brexit.
Thursday’s Financial Times reported that Prime Minister Theresa May is believed to be likely to agree to Brussels’ demands that Northern Ireland stay part of the single market regulatory area.
That would be offset, the paper suggested, by the EU agreeing to concede that under the backstop plan the whole UK, rather than just Northern Ireland, would stay in the customs union for a limited period until a trade deal was finalised.
A similar report – which emanated from Irish government sources – appeared in The Irish Times.
When asked whether in that scenario the DUP would bring down the prime minister, DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds said: “The government knows where we stand and we have been consistent over the last number of years of the necessity of keeping the United Kingdom together as we exit the European Union.
“We would not support any proposal in terms of Brexit that would breach our red line on the constitutional or economic integrity of the United Kingdom.
“Were any such proposal to come forward we would vote against it alongside many dozens of Conservative Party MPs in Parliament and the government would be forced to think again and take a different course.”
Another senior DUP source told the News Letter firmly: “How many times do we have to state our position? We leave on the same terms as the rest of the UK – that means no sea border, whether customs or regulatory.
“It’s a red line and we mean it.”