DUP fury but ministers hopeful Brexit deal with get through Parliament

Theresa May set out her proposals in a letter seen by The Times

Theresa May set out her proposals in a letter seen by The Times

The DUP has reacted angrily to a letter from Theresa May to DUP leader Arlene Foster and accused May of breaking promises with regards to an Irish Sea border.

The scope of any alignment with Brussels' rules would be limited to what is "strictly necessary" to avoid a hard border.

For the DUP however this meant that Westminster will agree to a Brexit deal that includes a backstop arrangement, something the party has opposed from the start.

The DUP MP Sammy Wilson heaped further pressure on the government, telling the BBC Radio 4's Today programme that the letter was sent to the party but was put into the public domain by Downing Street. Wright said the government would not accept a Brexit deal which separates Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK.

Cabinet ministers have been on stand-by for an emergency session to review any potential deal, but the source said that "nothing is going to happen" in terms of a meeting over the weekend.

Mr Varadkar also said he has "no specific concerns" about the letters between British Prime Minister Theresa May and the DUP, but again stressed the importance of avoiding a hard border in Ireland.

A "backstop to the backstop" would involve only Northern Ireland remaining tied to the European Union in the event that a trade agreement could not be reached within the time limited period.

If the Prime Minister agreed to such a plan DUP MPs would vote against the deal in Parliament, senior members of the party have warned, making it nearly impossible for Mrs May to win enough support for it to pass.

Toaiseach Leo Varadkar told a meeting of British and Irish officials on the Isle of Man that while negotiations were still at a "sensitive point", he was hopeful an agreement could be struck in the coming weeks.

"There will be product on the table which all will have signed up to that will have involved compromises on all sides", he said.

Mr Varadkar warned, however, that nothing was guaranteed, adding that any Brexit deal was unlikely to ensure a "clean break".

"And we'll do our best to work through it and make sure we get the best outcome for our citizens".

"Even when all of that is done, then we begin the talks on the future relationship", he added.

"If we've got an agreement, with the United Kingdom (government) recommending the deal as a good deal for the whole United Kingdom, and the 27 members of the European Union also accepting the deal, I think that's the point at which people need to come together, vote for that deal and let's get on with delivering on the wish of the British people to leave the European Union".

Earlier Mr Varadkar said: "certainly the position of the Irish Government has always been that we don't want to see any new borders between us and that applies as much between Larne and Stranraer or between Belfast and London as it does between Newry and Dundalk".