Belfast Telegraph

Keep no-deal Brexit threat on the table, urges Nigel Dodds

  • Nigel Dodds joins forces with Conservative MPS to seek a Brexit delay until May
  • The EU says its no-deal preparations are "more important than ever before"
Nigel Dodds
Nigel Dodds

The DUP's Westminster leader Nigel Dodds has urged the Prime Minister to keep the threat of a no-deal Brexit on the table.

On Tuesday night, the DUP's 10 MPs helped to deliver a crushing defeat to Theresa May's revised withdrawal agreement, while Northern Ireland's Independent MP Lady Sylvia Hermon voted in favour of the deal.

With another Commons vote on whether to support or reject a no-deal Brexit to go ahead on Wednesday, Nigel Dodds said the UK's negotiating position would be weakened by removing the option of leaving the EU without a deal.

"The best way to get a good deal, to get a deal you can actually vote for is to keep the threat of a no-deal on the table," he told Sky News.

"Once you take that threat away you are bound to be offered terms which are less advantageous, in the sure and certain knowledge that the other side has that you are not going to walk away. So it's totally self-defeating and it counter-productive."

Mr Dodds added that it would be a "major constitutional crisis" if the Government tried to reverse the result of the referendum.

"If you take the votes of [Theresa May's] Conservative colleagues who voted against her, and the votes of the DUP, and if those votes were to switch to something acceptable, then she would have had a majority," he said.

"And that's the lesson the Prime Minister needs to take away from this: there is more work to be done, so let us continue to do that work."

It comes after Mr Dodds joined forces with a group of Conservative MPs including Jacob Rees Moggs to formally seek that Brexit be delayed until May 22.

They have tabled a 'Malthouse Compromise' amendment to the motion planned by the Prime Minister later this week.

Their amendment states that this will allow businesses time to prepare for the operation of tariffs.

Significantly the new Brexit date chosen coincides with the start of the European elections.

The motion was signed by Damian Green, Iain Duncan Smith, Nicky Morgan, Simon Hart and Steve Baker, along with Mr Rees-Mogg and Mr Dodds.

Meanwhile, the European Union's chief negotiator has said the EU's no-deal preparations are now "more important than ever".

"The EU has done everything it can to help get the withdrawal agreement over the line," he said in a Tweet.

"The impasse can only be solved in the UK. Our “no-deal” preparations are now more important than ever before."

It is expected that a plan for the Irish border in the event of a no-deal Brexit, as well as the no-deal tariff schedule, will be published on Wednesday morning.

If MPs vote to reject a no-deal Brexit on Wednesday, a further vote will be held on Thursday on whether to extend the Article 50 negotiation process beyond the current deadline of March 29.

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