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Dublin: 14°C Tuesday 20 October 2020

DUP says voting against Brexit deal 'not the end of the game'

Arlene Foster wrote in the Belfast Telegraph that she was not looking for a ‘perfect’ deal.

The DUP has promised to vote against the Brexit deal.
The DUP has promised to vote against the Brexit deal.
Image: Rebecca Black/PA Wire/PA Images

THE DUP HAS re-iterated that it will not vote for Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal, with leader Arlene Foster saying that the current agreement is “without support in unionism”. 

Attention has focused on the party ahead of tomorrow’s unusual Saturday sitting of the House of Commons, when Johnson will present his deal to MPs for approval. 

The party, which has 10 MPs, yesterday said that it rejected the deal reached after intense negotiations between the UK and the EU. 

The party’s stance makes it much harder for Johnson, who does not have a majority in parliament, to pass his deal. 

Writing in the Belfast Telegraph today, Foster said: “Tomorrow our Members of Parliament will oppose the proposals. We worked intensively with the Government over recent weeks to try and reach a fair and balanced deal.”

“We were not seeking a perfect deal. It doesn’t exist. We were seeking a deal which delivered Brexit without erecting barriers to trade,” she said. 

“We regret that a deal has been reached between the UK and the EU that we cannot support. We do not believe it is in the best economic interests of Northern Ireland,” Foster added. 

While some progress has been made in recognising the issue of consent, the elected representatives of Northern Ireland will have no say on whether we enter these arrangements in the first instance, and the Government has departed from the principle that these arrangements must be subject to the consent of both unionists and nationalists.

Under the deal, customs and regulatory arrangements would be reviewed by Stormont every four years, beginning four years after the end of the transition period.

The Northern Ireland Assembly will vote to decide whether to continue or not with the customs and regulatory arrangements. It’s been suggested that the winner of this vote will be decided by a simple majority.

Alternatively, cross-community consent for the arrangements – that is, if the vote is passed by most nationalists and most unionists – means they would remain in place for eight years.

The voting system was changed to prevent the DUP using the petition of concern to force the North into a closer arrangement with the rest of the UK. 

Speaking on the BBC Radio 4′s Today programme, DUP MP Sammy Wilson confirmed that his party would be voting against, as opposed to simply abstaining, on the deal. 

“We will not be voting for the deal tomorrow when it comes before the House of Commons. Why would we, when this deal goes against everything the government promised they would not do to Northern Ireland?” he said.

Wilson said that the change to the voting system “overturned” the safeguards of the Good Friday Agreement. The DUP will be encouraging Tory MPs to vote down the deal. 

“We always knew that Boris would be putting the interests of his own party first. He has made a judgement, I think wrongly, that a deal at any price with the EU is important to meet his 31 October deadline. So we were always prepared for this moment,” Wilson said. 

The DUP MP said that his party had already made compromises to help Johnson secure a deal. 

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The party had surprised many by last week conceding to a regulatory border in the Irish sea – for the last two years treated as a “blood red line” by the party. 

“Voting this down tomorrow is not the end of the game. But in fact it probably opens up possibilities for the government, which are not available at present, after a general election,” Wilson said. 

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