UK Govt brushes off Brexit threat by N. Irish allies

Arlene Foster DUP leader

Mrs Foster, speaking after a third day of talks in Brussels, said the decisions made by the Prime Minister in the comings days will be "critical" for Northern Ireland.

Top EU officials were warned Wednesday to make plans to cope with the fallout from a "no-deal" Brexit as their chief negotiator said talks with Britain must make more progress before next week's crunch summit.

The British government and leading politicians in Northern Ireland insist they will not agree to a withdrawal treaty that foresees the possibility of Northern Ireland being kept inside the EU's economic area while the British mainland is not.

British Prime Minister Theresa May briefed her inner Cabinet on Thursday evening that a historic Brexit deal was close, the Financial Times reported on Thursday.

But Cabinet sources said senior ministers were expected to consider the backstop plan when they met this afternoon with a view to getting the backing of the full Cabinet next Tuesday.

Downing Street insisted that defeat on the budget would not amount to a vote of no confidence in the Government under the terms of the legislation which provides for fixed-term, five-year parliaments.

Theresa May is facing the threat of Cabinet resignations after she accepted European Union demands that there will be no time limit on her controversial Brexit backstop plan. "Many of her cabinet colleagues have assured me of their unionism", she said.

Democratic Unionist Party Brexit spokesman Sammy Wilson told Ireland's RTE radio on Thursday the party's 10 members of parliament would vote against the United Kingdom budget and would consider voting no-confidence in May if the British government crosses the DUP's red lines in Brexit talks.


He reiterated the EU's line welcoming May's proposals for a bold free-trade deal "without tariffs or quotas" and close security ties after Brexit.

"Brussels wants Northern Ireland to have access to the EU single market and trade within the rules set by the EU under the European Courts of Justice", she said.

She added that Northern Ireland was not being offered the "best of both worlds".

But he said that checks on animals and animal food products passing between Northern Ireland and Great Britain would have to increase tenfold.

In a move seen by some as a warning shot, DUP MPs failed to back the Government in voting against a Labour amendment to an Agriculture Bill outlining post-Brexit reforms on Wednesday night.

"But that's not a question for us, we're not members of the Conservative Party".

For customs and VAT, Barnier said, "we propose using the existing customs procedures to avoid doing checks at the transit points".

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