Arlene Foster in Dublin earlier today. ROLLING NEWS.IE
By Anthony Neeson
British Prime Minister Theresa May is facing into the final days of EU withdrawal talks with open rebellion within her own party and the DUP threatening to withdraw the support of the party’s ten MPs who are propping up her beleaguered government.
The Irish border is the last remaining sticking point in the negotiations. The EU are insisting on a backstop for Northern Ireland, to prevent a hard border on the island. The DUP don’t want any new regulatory differences between Northern Ireland and Britain.
To avoid that the British government wants all of the UK to remain in the Customs Union for a time-limited period, but this has infuriated Brexiteers within the Conservative Party who want out of the EU as soon as possible.
The EU, for their part, have reservations about a time-limited UK backstop as it could give the UK a competitive advantage, and because it is time-limited it would not solve the problem of the Irish border.
Checks on certain goods and animals coming into Northern Ireland from British ports was meant to be the solution until the DUP said no.
On Sunday, the UK Brexit Secretary, Dominic Rabb, held crunch unscheduled talks with the EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, however, they broke up without agreement. That has cast doubt on whether any withdrawal agreement can be reached between the EU and UK, which was supposed to happen this Thursday.
The pressure is mounting on the British Prime Minister from all sides.
Her former Brexit Secretary, David Davis, who resigned in the summer, has called for a Cabinet rebellion on May’s Brexit proposals. Writing in the Belfast Telegraph DUP leader Arlene Foster warned Theresa May about signing any agreement with the EU that does not have the DUP’s backing.
“This backstop arrangement would not be temporary,” she wrote. “It would be the permanent annexation of Northern Ireland away from the rest of the United Kingdom and forever leave us subject to rules made in a place where we have no say.”