Foster warns against dangers of bad Brexit ahead of European Union summit

Theresa May leaves Downing Street last week

D-U-P leader, Arlene Foster, added that the European Union's proposal for a backstop arrangement will effectively keep Northern Ireland in the bloc.

The government says it is working with the Irish government and European Commission to ensure that the joint Irish market continues under any scenario, but admits consumers could be affected.

In another blow for Mrs May, some Tory MPs who voted Remain now plan to vote against her deal.

The deal was struck in June 2017 after Mrs May called a snap election and lost the Conservatives' parliamentary majority.

"This is no game. Anyone engaging in this in a light-hearted way foolishly fails to grasp the gravity of the decisions we will make in the coming weeks", Foster said.

Despite May's insistence that any backstop plan would be temporary, Simon Coveney, Ireland's deputy prime minister, said imposing a time limit would be a "deal breaker".

"What we can not do is see the United Kingdom locked in via the backdoor to a customs union arrangement which would leave us in an indefinite limbo - that would not be leaving the EU", he said on Friday.

In a direct message to Mrs May, she urged her not to follow Margaret Thatcher in accepting a deal she later regretted - referring to the former prime minister's part in the Anglo-Irish agreement.


May is also trying to fend off the threat of Cabinet resignations after at least four senior ministers expressed concerns about her current backstop, that would involve the whole of the United Kingdom staying in a customs union with the EU with no specified end date.

"We need to insure that we can reassure communities in the island of Ireland that they're not going to face the corrosive impact of a physical border re-emerging on the island of Ireland, bringing back memories of the past, the requirement of security around border checks and so on", he said.

"But, if the European Union doesn't match the ambition and pragmatism we've shown, we have the plans in place to avoid, mitigate or manage the risk of no deal and make a success of Brexit".

May must not accept "a dodgy deal foisted on her by others", she added.

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab, Environment Secretary Michael Gove and International Trade Secretary Liam Fox are reported to have expressed their discontent in the meeting on Thursday.

The pledge came amid continued speculation over possible ministerial resignations if the Prime Minister gives too much ground ahead of the Brussels summit next week.

Mr Davis has said the Brexit plan now on the table is "completely unacceptable" and called on the Cabinet to "exert their collective authority".

"What has happened over the last week, 10 days, is that there has been a measurable change in pace", he told the BBC.

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