DUP claims British government 'bears responsibility for Brexit debacle'

The DUP has accused Theresa May's government of bearing responsibility for the ongoing Brexit "de...
Stephen McNeice
Stephen McNeice

17.00 22 Mar 2019

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DUP claims British government...

DUP claims British government 'bears responsibility for Brexit debacle'

Stephen McNeice
Stephen McNeice

17.00 22 Mar 2019

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The DUP has accused Theresa May's government of bearing responsibility for the ongoing Brexit "debacle".

DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds has sharply criticised the British government, in the wake of Mrs May securing an Article 50 extension in Brussels.

He said the government's been "far too willing to capitulate" to the EU.


EU leaders agreed to an extension until May 22nd if the withdrawal agreement passes through the House of Commons in a third 'meaningful vote' next week.

If it's rejected again, Brexit will be delayed until April 12th - giving the British government two extra weeks to decide what they want to do.

The withdrawal agreement has been overwhelmingly rejected by MPs twice already.

House of Commons Speaker John Bercow has also indicated he won't allow another vote on the deal if there's no 'substantial' changes.

It appears the British government will push ahead with efforts to secure that third vote next week.

In a letter to MPs, Mrs May said they could bring the deal to the House of Commons again "if it appears that there is sufficient support" and Mr Bercow allows it.

However, the letter also suggests there mightn't be a vote if it appears it's going to be rejected again.

Reports from the UK suggest the government is also looking at the possibility of a series of 'indicative votes'.

That would see MPs votes on the range of possible options - such as a no deal, revoking Article 50 or a 'softer' Brexit - to gauge whether there's any strategy that could secure a majority in the Commons.

However, it's not yet clear what exactly will happen in Westminster next week.

'Missed opportunity'

Mrs May will need to persuade hard-line Conservative Brexiteers as well the DUP to back the deal if she hopes to get it through parliament.

In a statement today, however, the DUP again voiced its opposition to the agreement - as well as highlighting Mrs May's controversial speech earlier this week in which she pointed the finger at MPs for the Brexit impasse.

The party - which is propping up Mrs May's government - has vocally opposed the backstop to avoid a hard border in Northern Ireland.

Nigel Dodds claimed nothing has changed regarding the withdrawal agreement, saying his party "will not accept any deal which poses a long term risk to the constitutional and economic integrity of the United Kingdom".

In a statement, he said: “The Prime Minister missed an opportunity at the EU Council to put forward proposals which could have improved the prospects of an acceptable withdrawal agreement and help unite the country.

"That failure is all the more disappointing and inexcusable given the clear divisions and arguments which became evident amongst EU member states when faced with outcomes they don’t like."

He suggested Mrs May has now 'humiliatingly revoked' her pledge that the UK would leave the EU on March 29th.

He argued: "The Government has consistently settled for inferior compromises when they didn’t need to and when there was, and is, more negotiating with the EU to be done.

"Lectures by the Prime Minister putting the blame on others cannot disguise the responsibility her government bears for the current debacle and the fact that her agreement has been twice overwhelmingly rejected in Parliament."

'Pathway to victory'

As the European Council meeting finished up in Brussels this afternoon, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar acknowledged that many EU leaders are sick of talking about Brexit.

However, he said there is now a clear way forward.

He told reporters: "Prime Minister May believes there is a pathway to victory, to getting a majority in the House of Commons. I hope she can achieve that.

"It's very much an internal political matter for the British parliament."

French President Emmanuel Macron, meanwhile, insisted Europe must not remain a prisoner to Brexit.

He said: "The idea of course is to ensure an organised withdrawal, and to have as much clarity as possible with regards to dates and conditions... so the EU does not remain a hostage in the system."

Main image: Nigel Dodds, deputy leader of the Democratic Unionist Party. Picture by: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire/PA Images


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