Blow for Theresa May as DUP warn they are ‘not afraid’ of forcing a general election
DUP MPs will not shy away from voting down Theresa May’s Brexit deal even if it forces a general election, the party’s chief whip has said.
Jeffrey Donaldson said the unionist party was "not afraid" to topple the Government if the Prime Minister's final Brexit offer fails to meet its demands.
The intervention will come as a blow to Mrs May, whose minority government relies on DUP support in Westminster to get it over the line on crunch votes.
The DUP fears the Government could accept an arrangement to keep the Northern Irish border open that would see new trade barriers betweeen the province and the rest of the United Kingdom.
Mr Donaldson told the Today programme on Radio 4: “If we think a Brexit deal is not good for the United Kingdom, we will say so. We’ve been very clear about that.”
Asked if the party would stick to its approach even if it led to another snap general election, he replied: “Let’s see what the deal is. We’re not afraid of a general election.”
But he dismissed suggestions the DUP would be at fault if a fresh election opens the door to Jeremy Corbyn becoming Prime Minister.
“It won’t be the decision of the Democratic Unionist Party to do that, with respect," he argued.
“But I’ll tell you what - I’m quite happy to go to the people of Northern Ireland on the basis that we voted against a deal because it was not in the interests of Northern Ireland; it would have resulted in Northern Ireland being annexed from the United Kingdom.
“We are unionists at the end of the day. We want the United Kingdom to stay together. And we are not alone in this."
Reports emerged last night that the Cabinet is poised for an emergency meeting, amid rumours that a Brexit breakthrough with Brussels is imminent.
However, the main sticking point continues to be how future trade arrangements will affect Northern Ireland in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
The Government is said to have convinced Brussels to accept an Irish border 'backstop' that would keep the whole UK in a customs union, rather than just Northern Ireland.
But negotiations continue over the mechanism governing how any such arrangement would end - should the UK decide it wants to pull out.