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The DUP will vote against Boris Johnson's Brexit deal in parliament

The party said it cannot risk ‘the integrity of the union’.

DUP leader Arlene Foster.
DUP leader Arlene Foster.
Image: ISABEL INFANTES

Updated Oct 17th 2019, 1:57 PM

THE DUP HAS confirmed it will vote against the Brexit deal agreed between the UK and the EU when it goes before the House of Commons on Saturday. 

The party said the proposals “undermine the integrity of the union”, citing problems on issues such as customs, consent and VAT. 

The party had earlier this morning said it was opposed to the proposed agreement and after a deal was announced by the EU and UK this afternoon it confirmed its opposition. 

The deal contains various changes to the deal previously agreed by Theresa May’s government, essentially amending the backstop so that it applies specifically to Northern Ireland and not the UK as a whole. 

The deal lays out that the mechanism would then be reviewed by Northern Ireland’s  Assembly after four years, allowing it to decided by a simple majority whether to continue or not with the customs and regulatory arrangements.  

In a statement this afternoon, the DUP said it could not support this. 

“The Democratic Unionist Party has worked since the referendum result to secure a negotiated deal as we leave the European Union. We have been consistent that we will only ever consider supporting arrangements that are in Northern Ireland’s long-term economic and constitutional interests and protect the integrity of the union.

These proposals are not, in our view, beneficial to the economic well-being of Northern Ireland and they undermine the integrity of the union. Our main route of trade on an east–west basis will be subject to rules of the European Union Customs Union, notwithstanding that Northern Ireland will remain part of the UK Customs territory. 

On the issue of the Northern Ireland Assembly’s place in the deal, the DUP is opposed to the proposal that a simple majority could make a decision, rather than requiring a majority of both nationalists and unionists.

“While some progress has been made in recognising the issue of consent, the elected representatives of Northern Ireland will have no say on whether Northern Ireland should enter these arrangements,” the DUP says.

The government has departed from the principle that these arrangements must be subject to the consent of both unionists and nationalists in Northern Ireland. These arrangements would be subject to a rolling review but again the principles of the Belfast Agreement on consent have been abandoned in favour of majority rule on this single issue alone.

“These arrangements will become the settled position in these areas for Northern Ireland. This drives a coach and horses through the professed sanctity of the Belfast Agreement.” 

House of Commons

PastedImage-40938 Leader of the House of Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg. Source: parliament.uk

The DUP’s rejection of the deal significantly hurts the chances that it will be approved by the UK parliament on Saturday.

The House of Commons will sit on a weekend for the first time in almost four decades and MPs will now have a deal to vote on. 

Boris Johnson’s government does not have majority support in parliament and relies on the support of the DUP as part of a confidence and supply deal.

Hardline Tory Brexiteers from the European Research Group (ERG) have expressed support for the deal with Jacob Rees-Mogg MP describing it in parliament as “an incredible achievement” 

“In 85 days the undemocratic backstop has been removed, at the end of transition period, that is to say 31 December 2020 we will no longer be under the imperial yolk of the European Union,” he said. 

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About the author:

Rónán Duffy

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