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WATCH: Hammer blow for Theresa May as Arlene Foster says DUP cannot support Brexit deal

3 min read

Theresa May's hopes of finally passing her Brexit deal have been dealt a potentially fatal blow after the DUP announced they still cannot support it.

Number 10 had hoped to be able to stage the so-called "Meaningful Vote 3" on Friday if there was a realistic chance of it passing.

The Prime Minister was boosted when several Tory rebels said they were now willing to come on board after she told the party's 1922 Committee of MPs that she will stand down if the deal is finally backed by the Commons.

Boris Johnson was the most high-profile backbencher to U-turn on their previous opposition to the Withdrawal Agreement, while Jacob Rees-Mogg said he would back it if the DUP announced they were willing to vote for the deal or abstain.

But in a statement, the Irish unionist party - which props up Theresa May's minority government - said the backstop plan to avoid a hard border in Northern Ireland continued to put the integrity of the UK at risk.

"Given the fact that the necessary changes we seek to the backstop have not been secured between the Government and the European Union, and the remaining and ongoing risk that Northern Ireland would be trapped in backstop arrangements at the end of the implementation period, we will not be supporting thw Government if they table a fresh meaningful vote," the party said.

DUP leader Arlene Foster said: "We wanted to try to get a deal and when this all began we were looking to deal with the backstop. We wanted the Withdrawal Agreement re-opened to deal with that, and then there was a discussion around treaty-level changes to try and deal with the issues as well.

"But we feel very fundamentally that the backstop in that Withdrawal Agreement makes it impossible for us to sign up and I regret that." 

The DUP statement appeared to all-but rule out the chances of the Government bringing the meaningful vote back to the Commons on Friday.

At last weeking EU Council, it was decided that if the Prime Minister's deal was not approved by the end of this week, the UK would need to come up with an alternative plan by 12 April or leave with no deal.

Adding more confusion to the situation, MPs rejected eight possible alternatives to Mrs May's deal when they took part in a series of indicative votes on Wednesday night.

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