Belfast Telegraph

UK heading for no-deal if EU doesn't reopen withdrawal agreement, warns Donaldson

Sir Jeffrey Donaldson
Sir Jeffrey Donaldson
Gareth Cross

By Gareth Cross

DUP MP Sir Jeffrey Donaldson has warned that the UK is heading for a no-deal Brexit if the EU and Republic of Ireland refuse to renegotiate the withdrawal agreement.

Sir Jeffrey was speaking after Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said that their would be no "key-hole surgery" to the withdrawal agreement or the Irish border backstop.

Mr Coveney was speaking ahead of a trip by Prime Minister Theresa May to Brussels this week to meet with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.

Last month MPs voted to replace the backstop, aimed to prevent a hard border on the island of Ireland, with "alternative arrangements".

However the EU and Irish Government have remained steadfast in their position that the backstop cannot be changed.

However, they indicated they might be willing to make changes to the political declaration, laying out the future relationship between the UK and EU, to allay concerns.

The backstop plan is opposed by Tory Brexiteers and the DUP and has been a constant sticking point in the Brexit negotiations.

Tanaiste Simon Coveney said that the Irish Government would not be "steamrolled" as the Brexit process draws to a close ahead of the UK leaving the EU on March 29.

A spokesman for Mr Coveney said that Ireland would not take the blame for any failure of Brexit talks.

"The Tanaiste made it clear that any attempt to isolate Ireland as the problem in the Brexit process in European capitals would fail," the spokesperson said.

In response to Mr Coveney's comments Lagan Valley MP Sir Jeffrey said that "any agreement is never closed until it is agreed by both sides".

"Otherwise it isn’t an agreement at all," he tweeted.

"UK Parliament has made it clear that change to withdrawal terms is needed.

"If EU/Republic of Ireland refuses then we are heading for no deal.  Is that what Dublin really wants?" He asked.

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