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DUP could support soft Brexit to avoid Irish backstop

By Caoimhe Toman

Date: Friday 18 Jan 2019

DUP could support soft Brexit to avoid Irish backstop

(Sharecast News) - The Democratic Unionist Party could support a soft Brexit that would have the whole of the UK aligned with the EU's customs union in a bid to avoid the Irish backstop, according to a newspaper report on Friday.
Leading figures in the Northern Irish party are considering backing a Norway-style deal to try and break the current Brexit impasse, The Times reported.

This could help change Prime Minister Theresa May's mind after her Brexit plan was shot down in flames in the Commons earlier this week, losing a vote by the biggest margin in almost 100 years.

The DUP, which is supplying its 10 MPs' votes in order to prop up May's government in a confidence-and-supply deal, felt her deal was inadmissible purely because it would cause a divergence between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.

One DUP MP told the Times that the party's priority had been to try to tweak the current withdrawal agreement, but with the scale of May's defeat in the meaningful vote week, they were "going to have to look at other options that could include a softer Brexit as long as it applied to the whole of the United Kingdom".

Tory Brexiteers have counted on the support of the DUP to face down Brussels against the backstop option and risk a no-deal Brexit.

Nevertheless the DUP are not keen on a no-deal scenario since it could cause Northern Ireland to suffer an economic hit from the end of tariff-free trade with the republic.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has so far turned down private talks with May over a way to move forward over Brexit as he has demanded that a no-deal Brexit first be ruled out.

May said the opposition leader was setting "an impossible condition", while Corbyn rejected her offer based on the scale of her defeat in the meaningful vote and saying the "phony talks" were an attempt to "run down the clock and try to blackmail MPs to vote through her botched deal on a second attempt by threatening the country with the chaos that no-deal would bring".


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