Dramatic DUP threat to vote down Budget if Brexit demands on Irish border not met

Posted On: 
10th October 2018

The DUP has threatened to vote down the Budget if their Brexit demands on the Irish border are not met, it was claimed today, in a major blow for Theresa May.

Theresa May made a pact with the DUP in the wake of the snap election in 2017
Credit: 
PA Images

Such a move would breach the confidence and supply arrangement between the Irish unionist party and the Conservatives and could bring the Government crashing down.

But Downing Street took a bullish tone, saying the only votes the Prime Minister could rely on were "Conservative ones".

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The dramatic threat comes as Brexit talks enter their crucial final stage, with the Prime Minister desperate to hammer out a deal before a crunch EU summit next week.

DUP leader Arlene Foster has warned that Northern Ireland must keep the same trade rules as the UK in the Brexit negotiations - amid reports it could face changes to protect its border with Ireland.

Brussels wants to keep just Northern Ireland in a customs union as a "backstop" in case the UK crashes out of the bloc without a future trade deal.

The Government has proposed the whole of the UK remaining in the trade arrangement for a limited time period instead.

The former plan is opposed by the DUP and the Government, while the latter is opposed by Tory MPs who fear it could leave the UK tied to the EU indefinitely.

Ms Foster has said imposing new checks on goods travelling between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK would be a “blood red line”.

A DUP source told Sky News: “It is unacceptable that we would be treated differently to the rest of the UK. We will not be bounced into anything.

"If Theresa May doesn't take our concerns on board, she may not be the leader to take us through Brexit."

DUP Brexit spokesman Sammy Wilson told Sky: “[Theresa May] has not resisted the unreasonable calls for Northern Ireland to be treated differently in terms of regulation, in terms of participation in future trade agreements.”

Asked whether she could rely on DUP votes, a spokesman for the Prime Minister said: "The confidence and supply arrangement that we have with the DUP is a matter of record."

He added: "The only votes that she can depend on as leader of the Conservative party are Conservative ones."

The Budget will be on the 29 October - shortly after the crunch EU summit at which Mrs May is hoping to clinch the basis of a Brexit deal.

Budgets votes have traditionally been seen as confidence votes in the Government, meaning the Tory administration could be toppled if the DUP fails to back it.