Varadkar and Dodds offer differing views on Brexit

Theresa May set out her proposals in a letter seen by The Times

A Brussels plan to put a customs border in the Irish Sea if there is no Brexit deal will be included in a divorce agreement, a letter from Theresa May suggests.

It has been angered by a letter in which May said EU negotiators were still pushing for Northern Ireland to remain in the single market and customs union if talks collapse.

Tensions between Mrs May and her DUP allies have been exposed amid concerns about measures aimed at avoiding a hard border on the island of Ireland.

For the DUP however this meant that Westminster will agree to a Brexit deal that includes a backstop arrangement, something the party has opposed from the start.

Brexit is expected to dominate the agenda of the British Irish Council, which also involves the first ministers of Scotland and Wales, Nicola Sturgeon and Carwyn Jones.

He said the most important objective is to give everyone in Ireland, North and South "the assurance that a hard border will not develop... no matter what else may happen in the years ahead".

Sammy Wilson, the DUP's Brexit spokesperson, accused May of "total betrayal" and ditching the "promises she made" to the party, which has already threatened to withdraw its support for the embattled prime minister.

The party's Westminster leader, Mr Dodds, warned on Sky News: "I think the prime minister will hopefully realise what can be got through parliament and what can't".


"And we'll do our best to work through it and make sure we get the best outcome for our citizens".

"Brexit is going to go on for a very long period of time".

However, while the European Union is willing to include a UK-wide backstop, it is adamant that the Northern Ireland-only backstop must be included too, to ensure the status quo in Ireland is maintained in all circumstances.

However, the review mechanism is likely to fall short of expectations among some Government Ministers who will be angry the United Kingdom will have to consult the European Union and get their agreement before pulling out of the backstop.

Ireland's Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, Mrs May's effective deputy prime minister David Lidington, and Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley were attending a summit in the Isle of Man.

The response of the DUP has caused frustration in Downing Street, with sources insisting that Ms May was not hiding behind "weasel words" and had stressed that she would not accept a deal which saw Northern Ireland hived off.

Mrs May now relies on the support of ten DUP MPs to get key legislation, including Brexit, through Parliament as part of their confidence and supply agreement.

Mr Swann said Arlene Foster's party has "repeatedly bragged about the enormous power and influence" they have over Theresa May, adding: "If they have any, now would be a good time to demonstrate it, and fast".

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