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Northern Irish party threatens to topple Theresa May's United Kingdom government

12 October 2018

"And we are still open - we are still open - to the idea of having a customs union with the UK". But EU officials say that May has conceded that it will not contain a firm end date.

Writing in the Telegraph on Thursday, DUP MP Sammy Wilson said May's backstop proposal was part of a "road to parliamentary defeat for any deal which the Prime Minister brings forward". However, the British government would be able to point to criteria under which the arrangement would be terminated, fulfilling the British desire for it to appear to be a temporary arrangement.

London hopes to resolve the issue with a future trade deal, but agrees there should be a "backstop" arrangement to avoid physical frontier checks until that deal is done.

The challenge for May will be in selling the formulation to the whole cabinet.

McVey's formulation echoed that used on Tuesday by Penny Mordaunt, the global development secretary, who said that while "the prime minister can count on my support" she did not know "where this is going to end up".

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Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt insisted that ministers would not sign up up to any plan which compromised the territorial integrity of the United Kingdom by imposing a "border in the Irish Sea".

"They are going to talk a lot over the weekend and consider what they will live with and what they will walk over", the FT quoted one official close to Eurosceptic Cabinet ministers as saying of Leadsom and McVey.

The OBR, an independent non-departmental public body, said it was "next to impossible" to predict the consequences of a no-deal Brexit.

The EU suggests Northern Ireland stay aligned with its customs union and single market during that period, and there are signs the British government could accept elements of this plan.

Rogers, who quit previous year, said Thursday that both May's plan, which would keep Britain in the European Union single market for goods, and rival Boris Johnson's vision of a looser free-trade deal have "precisely zero" chance of being accepted.

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Barnier said customs forms could be completed in advance online and the "only visible systematic checks" would involve scanning bar codes on lorries or containers on ferries or in ports.

Downing Street has insisted defeat on the Budget would not amount to a vote of no confidence in the government, but there is no doubt the rhetoric of recent days has ratcheted up the Brexit brinkmanship.

"The only visible systematic checks between Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom would involve scanning the bar codes on lorries or containers, which should be done on ferries or in transit ports".

Michelle O'Neill, Sinn Fein's vice-president, responded by saying that "the DUP does not speak for the majority of the people of the north on Brexit".

Whitehall sources said before the meeting that they expected that key members of the cabinet would also discuss how to handle the DUP.

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Northern Irish party threatens to topple Theresa May's United Kingdom government