Brexit deal rejected by DUP as Boris Johnson heads to EU summit

The Democratic Unionist Party of Northern Ireland has announced that 'as things stand' it cannot support Boris Johnson's proposed Brexit deal • Johnson will need DUP's support in parliament to get the deal approved

Boris Johnson's Brexit deal has been rejected by the Democratic Unionist Party of Northern Ireland as EU leaders start meeting in Brussels to try and close the matter
Boris Johnson's Brexit deal has been rejected by the Democratic Unionist Party of Northern Ireland as EU leaders start meeting in Brussels to try and close the matter

Democratic Unionist Party of Northern Ireland has announced on Thursday, that it cannot support the proposed Brexit deal 'as things stand.'

The support of the Northern Irish party is seen as crucial if UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is to win Parliament's approval for the deal in time for his 31 October deadline.

The DUP said it would continue to work with the government to try to get a "sensible" deal.

The development comes as Johnson heads to a crunch EU summit to get the EU's approval for the deal.

For the EU, the legal text of a draft Brexit deal is seen as being ready. But the UK government has yet to approve the documents and the DUP remains unhappy about elements of the prime minister's revised plan for Northern Ireland.

DUP leader Arlene Foster
DUP leader Arlene Foster

In a joint statement released on Thursday, the DUP leader Arlene Foster and her deputy, Nigel Dodds, said discussions with the government were "ongoing", but "as things stand, we could not support what is being suggested on customs and consent issues and there is a lack of clarity on VAT".

"We will continue to work with the government to try and get a sensible deal that works for Northern Ireland and protects the economic and constitutional integrity of the United Kingdom," Foster and Dodds added.

Johnson's proposals for a new Brexit deal hinge on getting rid of the controversial backstop, the solution to Irish border issues agreed by former PM Theresa May which proved unpalatable to many MPs.

However, his plans would see Northern Ireland treated differently from the rest of the UK, something the DUP, among others, has great concerns about.

BBC reported that the draft Brexit deal has a mechanism enabling Northern Ireland to approve or reject the border plans. This would give the Stormont Assembly the chance to vote on Brexit arrangements four years after the Brexit transition period ends in 2020.

But the DUP has demanded assurances around this so-called consent mechanism.

As well as the DUP,  Johnson is also trying to secure support from Tory Brexiteers, most of whom are part of the European Research Group.

ERG chairman Steve Baker told reporters after a meeting in Downing Street on Wednesday evening his group "hope [to] be with the prime minister, but there are thousands of people out there who are counting on us not to let them down and we are not going to".

"We know there will be compromises, but we will be looking at this deal in minute detail with a view to supporting it, but until we see that text, we can't say."

The Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar has said that if a deal cannot be completed at the two-day summit, European leaders could gather again before the end of the month to continue Brexit talks.

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