May under pressure to get DUP onside

May under pressure to get DUP onside
DUP TM © Tiocfaidh ár lá 1916

UK PM Theresa May is under pressure to get a deal out of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) on the status of the Irish border when the UK leaves the EU.

The prime minister pulled out of a deal with Brussels that would have kick-started trade talks after meeting fierce resistance from the DUP.

The party said it would not accept a deal which saw Northern Ireland treated differently from the rest of the UK.

May needs the support of the DUP, which is northern Ireland’s largest party with ten MPs at Westminster.

After losing their House of Commons majority in the June general election, The ruling Conservative Party relies on a deal with the DUP to ensure they can survive key votes.

May is under pressure to get an agreement on EU divorce issues before European leaders meet on 14 December to decide whether to give the green light to start talks on post-Brexit trade.

The three issues that need to be resolved are the Irish border, citizens’ rights and the amount of money the UK will pay as it leaves.

Talks with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker ended without an agreement on Monday (4 December), although both sides said they were hopeful of achieving one by the end of the week.

May is expected to return to Brussels as early as Wednesday (6 December).

She had been expecting to make a major statement to MPs about a breakthrough in Brexit talks on Tuesday, but that has now been cancelled.

It is thought she will hold meetings with the DUP, as she attempts to foster support.

The DUP has objected to a clause in a draft agreement with the EU that would guarantee “regulatory alignment” between Northern Ireland and the Republic.

Ireland’s Prime Minister Leo Varadkar is understood to have insisted on the clause to prevent the return of a “hard border” on the island of Ireland, amid concern it could undermine the 1998 peace treaty that brought an end to the Troubles.

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