DUP fury with May over prospect of Brexit 'Irish sea border'

A senior DUP MP has accused Theresa May of a "total betrayal" amid suggestions a plan for a customs border down the Irish Sea could yet be included in a Brexit divorce deal.

Speaking at the British-Irish Council summit in the Isle of Man today, Mr Varadkar said he was hopeful the United Kingdom could strike a deal with Brussels before the end of the year despite continuing concerns over the future of the Irish border.

It comes as tensions are mounting between the DUP and the British Prime Minister over the future of Northern Ireland post-Brexit.

One of the scenarios being discussed is Britain remaining in a customs agreement with the European Union for a limited period even after the end of the transition period on December 31, 2020, which would avoid the introduction of new border controls between Ireland and Northern Ireland, Walker said.

"A successful outcome is not guaranteed but I think it is possible in the next couple of weeks", Mr Varadkar said.

'If a deal emerges shaped on the contents of the PM's letter, DUP MPs & our allies will not support it, ' Wilson later tweeted.

The Democratic Unionist Party which props up the fragile and divided Conservative government is furious after receiving a letter from May which that refused to rule out a backstop for Northern Ireland alone.

Some British media said May's government leaked the letter to prepare the ground for what The Guardian called a final "showdown" with the DUP over the checks.

Asked if he accepted Theresa May's pledge of no border in the Irish Sea, Mr Wilson replied: "We want to trust the Prime Minister because she has said so many times that that is the case, but you have to judge any promise by what is actually delivered in an agreement".

She said the problem with Mrs May's letter is that she has confirmed there will be a Northern Ireland specific backstop and the Chequers plan for the rest of the UK.

The EU's proposed fall-back position to avoid a hard border - the so-called backstop - would effectively keep Northern Ireland aligned with Brussels's customs union and single market.

May reportedly told her ruling coalition partners she would never allow the disputed Brexit deal proposal offered by Brussels to "come into force".

"But there are other political parties as well, who represent the majority of pepole in Northern Ireland, and there's also Northern Ireland business and Northern Ireland farmers, and people that live in Northern Ireland".

Sinn Féin MLA Máirtín Ó Muilleoir said the British government needed to honour its commitments to avoid a hard border rather than promises made to the DUP.

His comments came on the same day Austrian newspapers reported that Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab and European Union chief negotiator Michel Barnier could meet over the next few days to seal an agreement.

A UK-wide customs deal would maintain quota-free and tariff-free access to European markets for the British fishing industry and in return the EU wants to keep continued access to United Kingdom waters for its trawlers, the newspaper said.

  • Joey Payne