Friday 14 December 2018 11:21 am

DUP leader Arlene Foster asks Theresa May if she will ‘roll over’ for EU on Brexit deal’s Irish backstop clause

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DUP leader Arlene Foster has asked Theresa May whether she will “roll over” for the EU over Brexit, piling further pressure onto the Prime Minister as she seeks changes to her withdrawal agreement in Brussels.

Foster said today: “The Prime Minister has promised to get legally binding changes. The reaction by the EU is unsurprising. They are doing what they always do. The key question is whether the PM will stand up to them or whether she will roll over as has happened previously.

“This is a difficulty of the Prime Minister’s own making. A deal was signed off which the Prime Minister should have known would not gain the support of Parliament.

“If the Pirme Minister had listened to our warnings and stood by her public commitments, we would not be in this situation.”

Foster’s comments come as May seeks to drum up support for changes to her EU withdrawal bill in Brussels at the Brexit summit today.

However, from EU leaders’ comments it appears there is little room for renegotiation, as Jean-Claude Juncker, European Commission president, warned earlier this week.

May appeared to confront Juncker this morning at the summit in a moment caught on the official video feed, though no audio was available.

A diplomatic note leaked to the BBC said May’s demands on the Irish backstop “were not really clear” and that among EU leaders there was “no support” for any statement of intent to look into the issue further.

May delayed a vote on her widely unpopular Brexit deal earlier this week, promising a January vote instead as she seeks to buy more time to secure changes to the unpopular Irish backstop clause.

That would tie the UK in a temporary customs union with the EU to avoid a hard border in Ireland, but the UK cannot quit the arrangement of its own accord, leading hard Brexiters and the DUP to fear that Northern Ireland and the UK as a whole would be forced indefinitely to remain part of the EU.