DUP still opposed to Theresa May’s Brexit deal as it insists abstaining was ‘never an option’
The head of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) has repeated that her party will not support Theresa May's Brexit deal if it is put before parliament again and insisted that abstaining was "never an option".
Arlene Foster, who leads the Northern Irish party that props up the Prime Minister's minority government, confirmed the 10 members of her party would block May's deal again, citing concerns over the controversial Irish backstop, the policy designed to prevent a hard border in Northern Ireland by keeping the UK in a temporary customs union with the EU.
The DUP fears the backstop will threaten the constitutional integrity of the UK.
“You cannot abstain on the union [between the UK and Northern Ireland]. You just could not do that,” Foster told Irish state broadcaster RTE in an interview.
“Abstention would be the worst of all worlds because you are not actually indicating where you stand on the most important issue of our times so that was never an option,” she said.
“We want to see Brexit delivered," she added. "But if it’s a Brexit that keeps the whole of the United Kingdom together, that is the most important thing,” she said.
Yesterday influential Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg said he hoped the DUP would get behind May's deal. After originally opposing the deal, Rees-Mogg has now said he will back it.
In an article for the Daily Mail, he wrote: "I apologise for changing my mind. Theresa May's deal is a bad one, it does not deliver on the promises made in the Tory party manifesto and its negotiation was a failure of statesmanship.
"A £39bn bill for nothing, a minimum of 21 months of vassalage, the continued involvement of the European court and, worst of all, a backstop with no end date.
"Yet, I am now willing to support it if the Democratic Unionist Party does, and by doing so will be accused of infirmity of purpose by some and treachery by others.
"I have come to this view because the numbers in parliament make it clear that all the other potential outcomes are worse and an awkward reality needs to be faced."