Belfast Telegraph

May's disastrous deal unaltered and we won't back it: DUP leader

Theresa May during her speech
Theresa May during her speech
Suzanne Breen

By Suzanne Breen

The DUP has indicated that it will vote against Theresa May's new Brexit deal, which it says offers no improvement on her previous proposals.

Writing in today's Belfast Telegraph, DUP leader Arlene Foster said: "The Prime Minister tried to repackage the withdrawal agreement by tying a bow on the top and wrapping it in shiny paper but no one was fooled.

"Nothing has changed. The fatal flaws still remain. The backstop is still there meaning Northern Ireland could be cut off from its main market in Great Britain by a new regulatory border.

"Unless there are treaty level changes, Brussels would always have the whip hand."

Mrs May yesterday set out a 10-point compromise package in her final attempt to secure approval for her deal, which has already been rejected in Parliament three times.

She is to offer MPs a vote on whether to hold a second Brexit referendum in a last-ditch effort to secure support in the House of Commons.

Her new Brexit deal, which was agreed by Cabinet only after a stormy two-hour session, will be brought to Parliament in the first week of next month.

As well as a vote on a second referendum, MPs will be offered a choice over the UK's future customs arrangements with the European Union.

TUV leader Jim Allister rounded on the Prime Minister for opening the door to a second referendum. He said Mrs May's deal was nothing new but "rather another attempt to force her failed, rejected plan through Westminster".

He added: "What it does contain is another massive climbdown; this time on a second referendum. What an unprincipled individual, that she'd offer anything to try and get her disastrous deal through."

He said it was "empty rhetoric" to pledge that the Government would seek to have alternative arrangements to the backstop by 2020. "Once the principle of detachment of Northern Ireland is accepted, it will become a template for going forward in the long term arrangement.

"That is totally unacceptable constitutionally and economically. Effectively, it leaves us in the waiting room for Irish unity," he added.

Sinn Fein vice president Michelle O'Neill said: "The majority of people of the North did not consent to Brexit and rejected it at the polls.

"The 'new offer' announced by Theresa May contains little new thinking. Westminster is in chaos and what we heard today from Theresa May will do little to convince the business community or anyone else here that is likely to change."

Ulster Unionist EU election candidate Danny Kennedy said: "The very fact that the Prime Minister has made this speech less than 48 hours before polls open in an election to the European Parliament is symptomatic of the chaotic state of her Government at this time. The fact remains there should never have been a backstop in the first place and it was poor negotiations that resulted in its inclusion."

Alliance leader Naomi Long said: "Those saying the case for another vote was delusional have been proven wrong. We have not left the EU yet - the decision can be reversed and Brexit stopped."

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said he would consider the Prime Minister's plan, but warned: "We won't back a repackaged version of the same old deal, and it's clear that this weak and disintegrating Government is unable deliver on its own commitments."

Mrs May's proposals were immediately rejected by Tory Brexiteers. Boris Johnson tweeted: "We are being asked to vote for a customs union and a second referendum. The Bill is directly against our manifesto - and I will not vote for it. We can and must do better - and deliver what the people voted for."

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