Belfast Telegraph

'No Brexit deal tonight' as DUP reject PM's consent plan - report

Boris Johnson and Arlene Foster
Boris Johnson and Arlene Foster
Gareth Cross

By Gareth Cross

A Government source has said that a Brexit deal is unlikely to be agreed on Wednesday evening.

The Daily Mail has reported that the deal is being held up by the DUP, who have rejected Prime Minister Boris Johnson's latest plan to give Northern Ireland politicians consent on future alignment with the EU.

It is understood the PM's plan would see Stormont being given a vote on Northern Ireland's continuing relationship with the EU after four years.

According to the newspaper, the DUP believe the current plan would breach the Good Friday Agreement and that unionists and nationalists should have parallel consent on the issue through the Stormont Assembly.

It had been reported that agreements had been reached on Northern Ireland's trading future and a consent mechanism.

However, earlier in the day DUP leader Arlene Foster said that reports a deal had been agreed to give Stormont a say on Northern Ireland's future relationship with Europe were "nonsense".

Mrs Foster said discussions would continue and a deal needed to be "sensible" and have the support of both unionists and nationalists.

The BBC has reported that issues between the UK, EU and Ireland are "pretty much sorted", but that it was still unclear if the DUP were willing to support the Prime Minister's deal.

It comes after days of intense negotiations as the UK and EU attempted to reach a deal before the start of an EU leaders summit in Brussels on Thursday.

Time for an agreement is running out with the PM insisting the UK will leave the EU on October 31, despite legislation being passed obligating him to ask for an extension in the event of no-deal.

On Wednesday evening Prime Minister Boris Johnson acknowledged that "outstanding issues" to get a Brexit deal remain, but said there was still a "chance" of success.

Officials on both sides of the Channel said on Wednesday that numerous obstacles still needed to be surmounted for a fresh agreement to be brokered.

Chairman of the pro-Brexit European Research Group (ERG) Steve Baker said that "great progress" had been made in talks with Number 10.

The ERG has worked closely with the DUP throughout the Brexit process.

Speaking to Sky News after a meeting in Downing Street, Mr Baker wished "the Prime Minister every possible success as he goes to negotiate for our country."

Asked if he would back a deal, he said "I know everybody is desperate for us to say whether we can vote for it, but until we can see it, we can't say".

"We really must see the text in time to read it in order to vote on Saturday," Mr Baker said.

"Time is becoming very short for everyone now. As Michel Barnier famously said, 'the clock is ticking'.

"We need to get through this (European) Council, have the text of the deal, have the implementing legislation ready, and we need to be voting on that on Saturday."

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