DUP 'cannot and will not support' Labour's bid to torpedo Boris Johnson's Brexit deal, MP says

Posted On: 
21st October 2019

The DUP's Jim Shannon has downplayed speculation that his party could back Labour's bid to force a customs union on Boris Johnson's Brexit deal.

He said the party "cannot and will not support" a customs union arrangement

The Strangford MP - part of the pro-Brexit Leave Means Leave campaign - said the DUP “cannot and will not support” such an amendment to the Withdrawal Agreement Bill.

The move appeared to dash hopes that the unionist party could work with Labour to thwart Boris Johnson’s revised deal when the Prime Minister brings it before the Commons this week.

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Shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer said on Sunday Labour would be willing to team up with the DUP in its efforts to attach a customs union and a second referendum to the Prime Minister’s deal - a move that could force the Government to pull the crucial legislation.

In a message to the Tories' confidence-and-supply partners he said: “I say to any MP, but particularly the DUP, if you want to work with us to make this situation better, our door is open.”

But speaking to Sky News, Mr Shannon quashed hopes of a collaboration.

"We are clear where we stand on the customs union as something we cannot support and will not support and I believe that will be the stance we have later on," he said.

While he described reports the DUP could row behind the plan as "speculation", Mr Shannon also dismissed any suggestion his party could back a fresh public vote on the PM's deal.

"We do not support another referendum we want to honour the result of the referendum of 2016 and we want to make sure we do leave the EU on 31st October," he said.

"Those are the goals we are trying to achieve and to stick fast to."

The comments come after a senior DUP source told the Daily Telegraph a customs union amendment “would be one way we could look at addressing our concerns”.

And another told the paper there were "multiple scenarios with multiple options for us to resist Johnson’s anti-UK deal", adding: “It will be parliamentary guerrilla warfare.”

The DUP has vowed to oppose Mr Johnson’s amended deal over fears it will damage Northern Ireland’s economy and “undermine the integrity of the Union".

The group of 10 MPs also rejected the plans for a customs border in the Irish Sea and planned arrangements to ensure democratic consent over the deal at the Stormont Assembly, arguing the PM's plans "abandoned” the principles of the Good Friday peace agreement.

"These arrangements will become the settled position in these areas for Northern Ireland," they said last week.

"This drives a coach and horses through the professed sanctity of the Belfast Agreement.

"For all of these reasons it is our view that these arrangements would not be in Northern Ireland’s long-term interests.”