Friday 15 March 2019 3:39 pm

Hammond in Brexit talks with DUP as government tries to win over Northern Irish party

Chancellor Philip Hammond is reportedly holding talks this afternoon with Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) in a bid to gain their support for Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal.

The talks come ahead of a third vote on May’s deal next week in the House of Commons, as the PM looks for approval for her agreement with the EU.

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The deal was defeated for the second time in a vote last week, after attorney general Geoffrey Cox admitted the changes secured by May to her controversial backstop mean his legal advice is unchanged – meaning the UK could be left stuck indefinitely tied to EU customs union rules.

Hammond's talks with the Northern Irish party come as the government seeks enough support to pass its Brexit deal, the Financial Times reported.

Also earlier this week, the government motion to delay Brexit and extend Article 50 beyond 29 March won by 412 votes to 202.

Parliament decided it wants a Brexit delay but the EU's 27 other member states must also agree.

It means that the UK will ask for an extension to Article 50 until 30 June if Theresa May's deal is approved by 20 March.

If her deal is rejected for a third time and is not approved by Wednesday, the government will ask for a longer extension.

Read more: Theresa May’s hated compromise is the only workable Brexit on offer


DUP leader Arlene Foster signalled yesterday she may be willing to agree to a deal as business leaders piled pressure on her to avoid a no-deal scenario.

“We want a deal, we’ve said we want a deal, and we’re talking to them around that,” Ms Foster said on Thursday.

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