Prime Minister Theresa May arrives for the annual Royal British Legion Festival of Remembrance
The DUP and Jacob Rees-Mogg’s group of Brexiteers have united and vowed to vote down Theresa May’s Brexit deal.
Fifty-one Tories have already signed a pledge opposing Mrs May’s Brexit proposals – with concerns a no-deal insurance plan will lead to a border between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.
Now, the DUP and The European Research Group of backbenchers, chaired by Mr Rees-Mogg, have released an extraordinary joint declaration that they will stop a Brexit deal getting through Parliament if the Union is threatened.
Steve Baker, the group’s deputy chairman and Sammy Wilson, the DUP Brexit spokesman, wrote in The Sunday Telegraph: ‘We share the Prime Minister’s ambition for an EU free trade agreement, but not at any price and certainly not at the price of our Union.
‘If the Government makes the historic mistake of prioritising placating the EU over establishing an independent and whole UK, then regrettably we must vote against the deal.’
They added: ‘If Parliament is forced to reject the Government’s deal, then we will once again have called the bluff of vested interest lobbyists and Whitehall scaremongers.’
The extraordinary moves ramps up pressure on Mrs May as she battles to agree a deal with the EU that will be acceptable to a majority of MPs.
The DUP and The European Research Group of backbenchers, chaired by Mr Rees-Mogg (pictured), have declared they will stop a Brexit deal getting through Parliament if the Union is threatened
Justin Greening last night joined the chorus speaking out against Mrs May’s proposals, saying her potential deal represented ‘the biggest giveaway of sovereignty in modern times’ and demanded a second referendum.
She told The Observer: ‘The parliamentary deadlock has been clear for some time. It’s crucial now for parliament to vote down this plan, because it is the biggest giveaway of sovereignty in modern times.
‘Instead, the government and parliament must recognise we should give people a final say on Brexit. Only they can break the deadlock and choose from the practical options for Britain’s future now on the table.’
Shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer, however, vowed Labour would work with any willing MPs to prevent a no-deal outcome. He told The Sunday times: ‘The national interest must come first. And Labour will work with all sides to defend it.’
Meanwhile, four Tory ministers are on the verge of resignation after rail minister Jo Johnson quit on Friday, the Sunday Times reported without naming them.
The newspaper also said that the European Union had rejected May’s plan for an independent mechanism to oversee Britain’s departure from any temporary customs arrangement it agrees.
Mrs May is trying to hammer out the final details of the British divorce deal but the talks have become stuck over how the two sides can prevent a hard border from being required in Ireland.
Britain has proposed a UK-wide temporary customs arrangement with the EU to resolve the issue but Brexiteers in her party want London to have the final say on when that arrangement would end, to prevent it from being tied indefinitely to the bloc.
On Friday the DUP vowed to torpedo the government if Mrs May bows to EU demands on the Irish border ‘backstop’. Pictured: DUP leader Arlene Foster
A senior cabinet minister was quoted in the paper as saying: ‘This is the moment she has to face down Brussels and make it clear to them that they need to compromise, or we will leave without a deal.’
An EU diplomat said earlier on Saturday that they were cautiously hopeful that an EU summit could happen in November to endorse the deal but that the volatile situation in Britain made it very difficult to predict.
Other EU diplomats said several issues remained unresolved.
Mrs May is expected to meet with her cabinet this week to set out her plans for the divorce deal. She was dealt a blow on Friday when junior minister Jo Johnston, who voted to remain in the EU in the 2016 referendum, quit over her plan.
To add to the pressure, a leading member of a group of Brexiteer lawmakers in parliament joined with the Brexit spokesman for the small Northern Irish party that props up May’s party in government to warn that they could not vote for the deal as it currently stands.
A spokeswoman for Mrs May’s Downing Street office said the talks were going down to the wire. ‘The prime minister has always said these negotiations are tough and toughest in the final stages.
‘The prime minister has told colleagues this week we should aim to conclude the withdrawal agreement as soon as possible but we will not do that at any cost.’
On Friday the DUP, whose ten MPs prop up Mrs May’s government, vowed to torpedo the government if she bows to EU demands on the Irish border ‘backstop’.
Jo and his sister Rachel were remainers while older brother Boris campaigned for Brexit
The party’s leader, Arlene Foster, urged Mrs May to reflect on her Brexit stance as she warned the DUP will oppose her current proposals if they go to a parliamentary vote.
She said ‘no unionist’ could back the apparent advocacy of a withdrawal treaty that includes a Northern Ireland specific backstop measure to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland.
In a letter to the DUP, which was leaked to the media, Mrs May insisted such a backstop would never come into force.
Mrs Foster said her party was fundamentally opposed to any divorce deal that saw Northern Ireland operate under a different regulatory arrangement to the rest of the UK.
Stormont’s former first minister insisted there were ‘many others’ in the Conservative Party who could also not support the Prime Minister’s proposals.
‘We would not be able to support this if it came to Parliament in the form that it is in the letter,’ the DUP leader said.
The 18 ministers who have resigned from May’s government
Lord Bridges – Brexit differences
Lord Price – pursue other interests
Baroness Anelay – health issues
Michael Fallon – conduct claims
Priti Patel – secret Israel meetings
Damian Green – conduct claims
John Hayes – to speak out on issues backbencher
Justine Greening – refused to be moved in reshuffle
Amber Rudd – Misled MPs during Windrush row
Philip Lee – Brexit
Greg Hands – To oppose Heathrow expansion
David Davis – Brexit
Steve Baker – Brexit
Boris Johnson – Brexit
Guto Bebb – Brexit
Andrew Griffiths – conduct issue
Tracey Crouch – Gambling machine crackdown delay
Jo Johnson – Brexit