DUP leader Arlene Foster and her deputy Nigel Dodds have said they cannot support a new Brexit deal over concerns about customs and VAT.
The statement from the DUP politicians reads: ‘We have been involved in ongoing discussions with the Government.
‘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.’
DUP leaders Arlene Foster and Nigel Dodds are pictured in Westminster yesterday
The party issued a statement in the early hours of this morning saying they could not support the current Brexit deal proposed by Boris Johnson
Last night Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator, told ambassadors that an agreement had basically been reached – with the possibility of a formal sign-off today.
It was then up to Prime Minister Boris Johnson to convince the DUP of his plans, before putting it all to a vote in Parliament on Saturday following further discussions with EU leaders.
Mr Johnson remained confident, suggesting at Cabinet yesterday afternoon that he still hoped the DUP could be won over.
He also told a gathering of Tory MPs last night that the government was on the ‘Hillary Step’ about to reach the summit of Mount Everest.
He insisted: ‘If it is not possible to achieve a deal we will still leave the EU on October 31.’
Boris Johnson departs the back of Downing Street to attend a 1922 backbench committee meeting in Parliament yesterday. He has teed up a massive ‘Super Saturday’ showdown with MPs as his hopes of a Brexit deal look to be crumbling amid DUP opposition
And he later even compared his intense negotiations to that of a prisoner in The Shawshank Redemption – in which the hero escapes a jail by wading through a tunnel of waste.
Downing Street confirmed the government will now table a motion for the Commons to sit on Saturday – the first Saturday sitting since the Falklands War.
If there is a deal at the summit today MPs will be asked to approve it on Saturday, but if not Mr Johnson is expected to stage a vote on whether to delay Brexit or go for No Deal.
Remainers are also preparing a bid to force a second referendum, as the struggle for the country’s future intensifies.
Amid desperate efforts to win over the DUP – whose 10 MPs are seen as critical to unlocking a Parliamentary majority for a deal – there are hotly denied claims that billions of pounds more funding for Northern Ireland is on the table as a sweetener.
Leader of the House of Commons, Jacob Rees-Mogg, leaves Downing Street amid desperate talks to get a Brexit deal finalised ahead of an EU summit in Brussels today
ERG members (second from left to right) Mark Francois, Steve Baker, Iain Duncan Smith and Bill Cash leave Downing Street following last minute talks to try and secure a Brexit deal
Leader Arlene Foster was in No10 for more talks yesterday afternoon, but there are little signs that progress has been made.
She has dismissed EU claims reported by Irish broadcaster RTE that she had given in on key issues.
She tweeted: ‘Discussions continue. Needs to be a sensible deal which unionists and nationalists can support.’
One Cabinet minister told MailOnline there was ‘guarded optimism’ over the chances of getting the DUP on board but they insisted the government is preparing to fight to get Brexit done by October 31 if a resolution cannot be found.
‘We will be ready if the DUP can’t be won over,’ they said.
It comes as chairman of the pro-Brexit European Research Group, Steve Baker, said that ‘great progress’ has been made in talks with Number 10 last night.
French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel welcome European Commission president-elect Ursula Von der Leyen after a joint Franco-German cabinet meeting in Toulouse, France yesterday. Macron had been optimistic yesterday evening as he said he wanted ‘to believe that a deal is being finalised’
He said: ‘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 get that text, we can’t say.’
He added however, that the ERG ‘can’t support deal without seeing text’.
‘We really must see the text in time to read it in order to vote on Saturday,’ he said.
‘Time is becoming very short for everyone now. As Michel Barnier famously said, ‘the clock is ticking’.
‘We need to get through this (European) Council, have the text of the deal, have the implementing legislation ready, and we need to be voting on that on Saturday.’
EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier looked to be feeling the pace yesterday as he attending meetings in Brussels