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DUP warns Theresa May it is ‘highly likely’ her Brexit plans will be defeated again

3 min read

The DUP has warned Theresa May that her Brexit plan will suffer a fresh defeat next month unless she manages to secure changes to the Northern Ireland backstop.

Downing Street on Tuesday night confirmed that the Withdrawal Agreement Bill - the legislation needed to confirm Britain's exit from the EU - will be introduced to the Commons at the start of June, even if the Government fails to strike a deal with Labour.

But Nigel Dodds, the DUP's Westminster leader, reacted to the dramatic shift in strategy by making clear that his party was on course to reject the plan again.

He said: "If the Prime Minister brings the Withdrawal bill to the Commons for a vote the question will be 'what has changed?'

"Unless she can demonstrate something new that addresses the problem of the backstop then it is highly likely her deal will go down to defeat once again."

The DUP, which props up Mrs May's minority government, has already voted against Mrs May's deal three times.

The unionist party, which is supposed to prop up Mrs May's minority government, fears that the backstop element of the deal will force Northern Ireland to accept different trading arrangements to the rest of the UK.

Mr Dodds warned: "The Prime Minister has not pursued the one option that has ever achieved a positive vote for something in Parliament.

"Alternative arrangements to the backstop won easily whilst everything else has failed.

"For the bill to have any prospect of success then there must be real change to protect the economic and constitutional integrity of the United Kingdom and deliver Brexit."

The EU has previously refused to agree any changes to the backstop, which Brussels and Dublin see as the best way to avoid a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Meanwhile, the SNP's Westminster leader, Ian Blackford, said his party will vote against the WAB.

He said: "Scotland has been completely ignored by Westminster throughout the Brexit process. When the Tory Withdrawal Agreement returns to Parliament, SNP MPs will reject it and the devastating harm it would inflict on Scotland."

Labour MP Anna McMorrin, who supports the People's Vote campaign for another referendum, accused the Government of trying to "bounce" Parliament into backing her deal.

She said: "They can try the same failed strategy as many times as they like but the reality is there is no stable majority in Parliament for their already thrice-rejected deal or for any other form of Brexit.

"The Labour party leadership must not be complicit in inflicting any botched version of Brexit on our country without letting the public have the final say.

"With the Brexit now on offer so different from what was promised in 2016, the only way to secure a lasting and stable settlement in Parliament and the country is to put it to the people."

Tuesday night's announcement from Downing Street followed "useful and constructive" talks between the Prime Minister and Jeremy Corbyn.

Mrs May has been hoping to strike a deal with the opposition to pave the way for her agreement passing in the Commons.

But it is understood that the Labour leader made clear that his party will not support the Withdrawal Agreement Bill unless a compromise agreement between both sides is reached in advance.

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