On Thursday, Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) declared it cannot support Boris Johnson’s current Brexit plan. The announcement comes just hours before a crunch EU summit as a major setback to the British prime minister.
In a brief statement on Twitter, the DUP said, “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 (value-added tax).”
“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,” the statement added.
The DUP is known to support Johnson’s government and so the statement is being seen as a major setback for Johnson who would most likely need the support of his DUP allies in parliament for any deal agreed in Brussels. It came as British and EU negotiators worked late into the night in the hopes of presenting a last-minute Brexit deal to leaders meeting for a European summit.
To make sure that Britain heads for a managed withdrawal from the EU, both the sides were close to finding a basis for a treaty. Britain has been a part of the European bloc for nearly half a century. However, the officials could not solve how Northern Ireland which is a part of the UK will remain under the European scheme for sales tax.
The pound fell 0.5 percent against the dollar and the euro within minutes of the announcement. A pound was worth 1.2759 dollars and 1.1525 euros. Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick told in an interview, “We always knew these negotiations were going to be difficult and we’re going to go down to the line.”
While being asked, whether Johnson will meet the DUP again on Thursday, Jenrick said: “The prime minister and his team are in intensive negotiations with all parties, including with the DUP.
“We want to provide sufficient comfort for the DUP and unionists in Northern Ireland to feel that the arrangements we would put in place with this deal are sufficient to give them comfort to support it,” he added.
British politics expert Professor Tim Bale, deputy director of The UK in a Changing Europe think-tank, said, “It would be seen by some on their side as representing a surrender.”
“They would have to explain what on Earth the last two years have been about if they were to fold,” he added.
Mairead McGuinness, first vice president of the European Parliament, from Ireland’s governing Fine Gael party, asserted, “Whatever optimism we had last night has been dampened a little.”
“It would be quite concerning if one political party can delay everything or have a veto over everything. The numbers in the House of Commons are very tight. “It is of concern that one party is holding this up.”