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Jeffrey Donaldson: Boris Johnson won't become PM without DUP support

Boris Johnson is favourite to become the next Prime Minister
Boris Johnson is favourite to become the next Prime Minister
Andrew Madden

By Andrew Madden

DUP MP Sir Jeffrey Donaldson has said Tory leadership hopeful Boris Johnson will not become Prime Minister without the party's support.

The former Foreign Secretary is currently the front runner in the race to become the next Tory leader and Prime Minister, with the winner of the contest expected to be announced in the week of July 22.

Any incoming PM, however, would require the support of the DUP to stay in that position, as Arlene Foster's party is in a confidence-and -supply agreement with the Conservatives, effectively keeping them in power.

On BBC Radio Ulster's Talkback show on Friday, Jeffrey Donaldson was asked how the party would respond if Boris Johnson "did a u-turn" on his stance on the Irish backstop and "put a border down the Irish Sea" if he became PM.

In response, the Lagan Valley MP warned: "Well, I think you'll find that without the 10 DUP votes Boris Johnson would not be Prime Minister. I don't think I need to add to that, do I?"

The backstop is an insurance policy within the EU Withdrawal Agreement designed to prevent a hard border on the island of Ireland.

In order to do this, the mechanism would keep the UK in the EU customs union and Northern Ireland in large parts of the EU single market, if alternative arrangements cannot be found by the time the UK leaves.

While the DUP have remained staunchly opposed to the backstop, which they see as a threat to the Union, Boris Johnson's position on the issue has changed in recent months.

At the end of March, Prime Minister Theresa May brought her Brexit Withdrawal Agreement, containing the backstop, before MPs in the Commons.

Despite voting it down on two previous occasions, Boris Johnson voted in favour of the deal the third time round.

Last weekend, however, he declared in an interview he would "scrap the backstop" altogether and settle the border issue only when the EU is ready to agree a future relationship.

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