Belfast Telegraph

DUP reject claim party seeking cash to support Brexit deal - 'No amount of money will get us to accept weakening union'

Then Prime Minister Theresa May stands with DUP leader Arlene Foster as DUP MP Sir Jeffrey Donaldson signs the paperwork for the confidence and supply agreement in June 2017
Then Prime Minister Theresa May stands with DUP leader Arlene Foster as DUP MP Sir Jeffrey Donaldson signs the paperwork for the confidence and supply agreement in June 2017

The DUP has rejected claims that the party would accept a cash influx for Northern Ireland in exchange for supporting Prime Minister Boris Johnson's Brexit deal.

DUP Brexit spokesperson Sammy Wilson said there was no amount of money the party would accept if it meant weakening the union.

“This is an issue of whether or not the Union is weakened. If the Union is weakened no amount of money will get us to accept the deal,” the East Antrim MP said.

His comments came after speculation more money could be headed in the direction of Northern Ireland as the PM tries to get them on board with any concessions.

The DUP has helped prop up the Conservative Government through a confidence and supply agreement which has brought £1bn in additional investment to Northern Ireland.

Mr Johnson held further talks with the DUP on Wednesday after the party said "gaps remain and further work is required" following a meeting with the PM on Tuesday night.

On Wednesday DUP leader Arlene Foster quickly moved to reject a suggestion that her party had accepted the latest proposal around Northern Ireland's consent for any Brexit deal.

She tweeted: "Discussions continue. Needs to be a sensible deal which unionists and nationalists can support."

Former Brexit secretary David Davis said DUP backing would be influential for his colleagues.

"There will be quite a lot of Tory MPs who will take their line from what the DUP do," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

If the DUP say the deal is "intolerable" then that opinion is "quite important", he said.

"Let's see when she sees the detail of the deal whether she thinks this is blood-red line or it's an acceptable compromise," Mr Davis said.

Pressure to sign off on a draft agreement is peaking. A legal text needs to be published ahead of the summit if the EU27 are to consider ratifying the Withdrawal Agreement at the two-day summit.

On Wednesday evening the Prime Minister acknowledged that “outstanding issues” to get a Brexit deal remain.

His official spokesman said Mr Johnson had on Wednesday afternoon updated his Cabinet, which gave its “full support” to get a deal ahead of the summit after a “positive discussion”.

“He said there was a chance of securing a good deal but we are not there yet and there remain outstanding issues,” the spokesman added.

(PA Graphics)
(PA Graphics)

Approval at the EU summit would allow Mr Johnson to put the deal to MPs in a proposed sitting of Parliament on Saturday, between 9.30am and 2pm.

The Government is to table a motion on Wednesday to ask Parliament to back the sitting, the first on a Saturday for 37 years.

During the weekend session, MPs would be able to back or reject any deal presented to them, or discuss what to do next in the Brexit saga.

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