DUP digs in: Unionists accuse Boris Johnson of ‘driving coach and horses through Good Friday agreement’ and refuse to support his Brexit Deal
- The DUP said Mr Johnson had been ‘too eager by far to get a deal at any cost’
- Nigel Dodds, the party’s deputy leader, confirmed they will not support the deal
- The DUP has ten MPs – meaning their lack of support could be vital Saturday
The DUP made its bitterness with Boris Johnson clear last night, accusing him of being too willing to ‘drive a coach and horses’ through the Good Friday Agreement.
After the Prime Minister agreed to a deal with the EU that it refused to support, the Democratic Unionist Party said Mr Johnson had been ‘too eager by far to get a deal at any cost’.
Early yesterday morning, there were hopes the DUP could be brought on board when the party issued a statement saying it could not support the proposed deal ‘as it stands’.
And when Mr Johnson stunned Westminster by announcing, just a few hours later, that he had finalised an agreement with Brussels, it triggered speculation that the DUP must have had a change of heart.
The unionist party reiterated its opposition to the agreement, saying it could not support it. Pictured left, Nigel Dodds, next to DUP party leader Arlene Foster
But only minutes later, the unionist party reiterated its opposition to the agreement, saying it could not support it. It later issued a scathing statement making clear it would vote against it tomorrow.
The party rejected the revised Withdrawal Agreement because it does not give unionists in the Northern Ireland assembly a veto over controversial new customs arrangements, which bring in an effective boundary down the Irish Sea.
The DUP is also worried that the new VAT rules could cause too much red tape for Ulster firms.
Nigel Dodds, the party’s deputy leader, said: ‘We will not support a deal which is detrimental to Northern Ireland, which damages our economy in the process and which tears up the Belfast Agreement safeguards upon which the power sharing arrangements in Northern Ireland depend.’
But Mr Johnson, pictured in Brussels this afternoon, decided to press ahead with his agreement without the support of the unionist party
The DUP tweeted yesterday and said: ‘The Democratic Unionist Party will be unable to support these proposals in Parliament’
The 1998 peace deal said unionists must have a veto over any changes to the way Northern Ireland is run. Mr Johnson’s deal would allow the province to remain in the EU customs zone even without unionist support.
The DUP – the Tories’ confidence-and-supply ally – said: ‘These arrangements will become the settled position in these areas for Northern Ireland.
This drives a coach and horses through the professed sanctity of the Belfast Agreement.
For all of these reasons it is our view that these arrangements would not be in Northern Ireland’s long-term interests.’
The party’s stance is a blow for the PM, who has a majority of minus 45.
Ms Foster and Mr Dodds have been frequent visitors to Number 10 in recent days but talks ended in acrimony
The DUP has ten MPs – meaning their lack of support could be vital tomorrow. But Mr Johnson appears to have calculated that it is better to dump his DUP allies than miss the chance of sealing a deal.
Speaking alongside DUP leader Arlene Foster last night, Mr Dodds hit out at the Prime Minister.
He said the Benn Act, which requires Mr Johnson to ask for an extension if there is No Deal by tomorrow, had forced the Prime Minister into ‘desperation measures’. He added that he expected a ‘massive vote’ against the deal tomorrow.
After announcing the agreement, Mr Johnson tweeted: ‘The people of Northern Ireland will be in charge of the laws that they live by, and, unlike the backstop, will have the right to end the special arrangement if they so choose.’