British Prime Minister Theresa May draws fury of Northern Irish allies over Brexit

Theresa May is due to meet French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday on the sidelines of World Way I commemorations being held in Belgium and France.

Published: 09th November 2018 03:51 PM  |   Last Updated: 09th November 2018 04:06 PM   |  A+A-

Representational Image for Brexit (File | Reuters)


LONDON: British Prime Minister Theresa May drew the fury of her crucial Northern Irish allies on Friday after seemingly accepting an EU-backed Brexit solution they fervently oppose.

The Times newspaper reported that May sent a five-page letter on Tuesday to the leaders of Northern Ireland's small Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) that props up her government.

In it, May reportedly tried to assure her allies that she would never allow a Brexit deal proposal offered by Brussels to "come into force".

But DUP leaders said on Friday that May's wording meant the Brexit fix would still be included in the withdrawal agreement that London and Brussels hope to reach in the coming days.

They said May had earlier promised them that it never would.

"The PM's letter raises alarm bells for those who value the integrity of our precious union & for those who want a proper Brexit for the whole UK," DUP leader Arlene Foster tweeted.

"From her letter, it appears the PM is wedded to the idea of a border down the Irish Sea with NI in the EU SM regulatory regime.

ALSO READ | UK, European Union close to Brexit deal over Irish border: report

" DUP Brexit spokesman Sammy Wilson told Sky News that May was guilty of "total betrayal".

At issue is the vexing problem of how to avoid border checks between British Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland after Brexit enters into force on March 29.

London suggests Britain could temporarily stay aligned with the bloc's trade rules but wants to reserve the right to exit the arrangement.

The EU appears ready to accept that -- but only if there is a fall-backed option written into the withdrawal agreement.

This so-called "backstop to the backstop" would see Northern Ireland become wedded to the EU single market and customs union should London and Brussels fail to strike a permanent trade deal.

This would then require additional checks on goods and agriculture flowing between Northern Ireland and mainland Britain along the Irish Sea.

The disagreement underscores the difficulties smooth Brexit faces even if London and Brussels agree to the terms of a divorce deal.

ALSO READ | Countries raise concerns at WTO over Britain's post-Brexit trade plans​

May is due to meet French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday on the sidelines of World Way I commemorations being held in Belgium and France.

But she needs the DUP support at home once the deal -- if any -- comes up for approval in parliament.

Some eurosceptics in her Conservative Party are already threatening to vote against the deal because it could lock Britain into a long-term customs arrangement with the EU.

May's loss of DUP backing could see the government lose the Brexit vote in parliament and potentiall

Stay up to date on all the latest World news with The New Indian Express App. Download now
(Get the news that matters from New Indian Express on WhatsApp. Click this link and hit 'Click to Subscribe'. Follow the instructions after that.)


Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

flipboard facebook twitter whatsapp