Belfast Telegraph

DUP supporting government in national interest... but lessons need to be learned, says Arlene Foster after meeting Prime Minister May

Reports EU preparing to delay Brexit for year

Jonathan Bell

By Jonathan Bell

The DUP said it is backing the Government in Wednesday night's no confidence motion saying Prime Minister Theresa May must be given time to come up with a better withdrawal agreement but "lessons will need to be learned".

Leader Arlene Foster and Nigel Dodds met with the Prime Minister on Wednesday evening just hours before the vote on the Labour motion.

Describing the meeting as "useful" Arlene Foster said lessons needed to be learned and the backstop "dealt with".

"These are critical times for the United Kingdom and we have indicated that first and foremost we will act in the national interest," she said.

It comes as reports mounted EU officials are considering plans to extend the Article 50 exit procedure. The Times reported preparations are underway given the political turmoil in Westminster and the resounding rejection of Mrs May's deal with a view to the UK leaving the EU in 2020.

"Lessons will need to be learned from the vote in Parliament," Arlene Foster continued, "The issue of the backstop needs to be dealt and we will continue to work to that end.

"In keeping with our commitments in the Confidence and Supply agreement, which has benefited every sector of society in Northern Ireland, the DUP is supporting the Government this evening so that we can concentrate on the real challenges ahead of us.

"We will have further engagements in the coming days."

The Prime Minister needs to be given time to deliver a better withdrawal agreement. Nigel Dodds

Theresa May is widely expected to see-off. Should she lose there could be a General Election called.

Nigel Dodds said he believed an election was not in the national interest and didn't believe a Corbyn government as an alternative was a good idea.

He described the motion of no confidence in the Government as "little more than opportunism".

The MP told the Commons: "Last night’s verdict was emphatic and clear. Now that the result is known, the Prime Minister must listen and learn lessons, particularly if she is to secure vital changes to the Withdrawal Agreement.

"The Government knows full well our concerns about the Brexit negotiations but we believe it is in the national interest to support the Government at this time so that the aims and objectives of the Confidence and Supply Agreement are achieved.

"Labour’s motion of no confidence is little more than opportunism and does not set out any genuine alternative programme for government.  In the national interest the Prime Minister needs to be given time to deliver a better withdrawal agreement that can command our support in the House of Commons."

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