Blow for Theresa May as Arlene Foster rejects her latest plea for DUP to back her deal

Posted On: 
25th March 2019

Theresa May's hopes of winning MPs' backing for her Brexit deal have been left in tatters after the DUP told her they still cannot vote for it.

Theresa May held talks with Arlene Foster on Monday afternoon.
PA Images

The Prime Minister had planned to hold a third meaningful vote on the withdrawal agreement on Tuesday, and held talks with the Northern Ireland unionist party's leader Arlene Foster.

But speaking afterwards, a DUP source confirmed their position "remains unchanged", meaning they still cannot support the deal.

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That represents a bitter blow for Mrs May, who needs the DUP's backing in order to persuade dozens of Tory rebels to also vote for it.

It also means that there is little chance of the Prime Minister risking another meaningful vote this week, unless there is a dramatic change of heart from Mrs Foster's party.

A Downing Street spokesman confirmed that the deal will not be brought back before the Commons unless Mrs May believes she can win it.

The DUP's ongoing intransigence also throws Number 10's entire Brexit strategy into chaos following last week's EU Council meeting in Brussels.

At the summit, leaders agreed to extend the Brexit deadline until 22 May, on the condition that Mrs May's deal is passed by the Commons this week.

But if MPs fail to back Theresa May's deal by then, the UK will then only have until 12 April to come up with an alternative plan.

Meanwhile, the European Commission has said that a no-deal Brexit now looks "increasingly likely".

Announcing that it has completed its no-deal preparations, the European Commssion urged EU citizens and businesses to be aware of the potential consequences of the UK leaving without a withdrawal agreement in place.