DUP leader Arlene Foster REFUSES to back down in Irish border fight as she blames Dublin for triggering the row and reveals she still hasn't spoken to Theresa May a day after torpedoing her Brexit talks
- Prime Minister Theresa May had to break off from a lunch with Jean-Claude Juncker to field an angry DUP call
- Before lunch, EU diplomats and journalists had been told to expect a 15-page document outlining deal details
- But later in the afternoon, Mrs May and Mr Juncker?announced discussions on a deal had been abandoned
- Senior Tory said DUP had 'gone ballistic' over compromise?which they feared would result in split from UK
DUP leader Arlene Foster refused to back down in a row over Brexit tonight insisting she was just as 'unequivocal' as Dublin about the terms of the Irish border.
In a clear signal there will not be a quick fix as Theresa May scrambles to reassemble a draft deal that was ready for agreement yesterday lunchtime, Mrs Foster said there was 'no way' she could endorse the current version.?
The DUP leader is due to finally speak to the Prime Minister later tonight, more than 24 hours after her call yesterday that forced Mrs May to quit a crucial round of Brexit talks without a deal.
Mrs Foster blocked a draft that apparently promised Northern Ireland would match EU rules after Brexit, separately from Britain. Irish Premier Leo Varadkar has claimed Mrs May was ready to sign before the DUP intervention and insisted the contested language was drafted by Britain.?
It was confirmed tonight Mrs Foster had not seen the detail of what was about to be agreed until yesterday. The DUP leader told Irish broadcaster RTE that it was a 'big shock' when the document was finally handed over after five weeks of the party demanding to see what was on the table.
She blamed Dublin for stopping the Tories sharing the details before yesterday.?
When they speak later, Mrs May must quickly find a new form of words that is acceptable to Mrs Foster and will also be agreed by Brussels and Dublin.?
Speaking in Belfast tonight, Mrs Foster warned she was in no mood to give in to Mr Varadkar's demands, insisting: 'He can be as unequivocal as he likes. We're equally unequivocal.'
The Government in Westminster has scrambled today to insist any arrangement for Northern Ireland will be matched across the UK, meaning in some areas rules after Brexit will still follow EU terms. ??
Brexit Secretary David Davis flatly denied that the government was prepared to sign up to terms that would risk Northern Ireland's future, vowing that the 'integrity of the UK comes first'.
But he risked Eurosceptic fury by giving the clearest sign yet that all of Britain would 'align' with EU rules in crucial areas such as agriculture, energy and transport in order to secure a close relationship with the bloc.
The comments quickly triggered gloating from Eurocrats that Mr Davis had effectively agreed to 'make?the UK kind of a regulatory protectorate of Brussels'.
DUP leader Arlene Foster (pictured in Belfast tonight) refused to back down in a row over Brexit tonight insisting she was just as 'unequivocal' as Dublin about the terms of the Irish border.
Summoned to answer questions in the Commons, Brexit Secretary David Davis (pictured at the Despatch Box this afternoon) dismissed claims the government was putting the union at risk or that the 'DUP tail was wagging the government dog'
The Prime Minister (pictured in Downing Street today) is scrambling to get negotiations with the EU back on track after an humiliating day in Brussels
?In a round of interviews tonight, Mrs Foster said:?'We hadn't seen any text, despite asking for text for nearly five weeks now, we haven't been in receipt of any text and the text only came through to us late yesterday morning.
'And obviously once we saw the text we knew it wasn't going to be acceptable.'
Meanwhile, DUP Westminster leader Nigel Dodds defended his party's decision to torpedo the deal Theresa May had painstakingly assembled in the EU yesterday.
Mr Dodds confirmed the party only saw a draft text of the plan late yesterday morning, at which point they declared the 'ambiguous' wording guaranteeing 'regulatory alignment' between Northern Ireland and the Republic was unacceptable.
Tory Eurosceptics hailed the move for having 'saved Brexit' and urged a tougher line against Irish demands over the border.
But Labour said it showed the 'DUP tail was wagging the government dog' as Mrs May depends on their 10 MPs to cling to power.
The Prime Minister is scrambling to get negotiations with the EU back on track after an humiliating day in Brussels which saw her pause lunch with Jean-Claude Juncker in order to take a call from Ms Foster raising alarm about her plans.
While Mrs May and Mrs Foster have still not spoken today as the Prime Minister has tasked her chief whip Julian Smith to hammer out the details of what is acceptable with Mr Dodds.?
With the high stakes negotiations continuing today, Theresa May hosted the Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy for private talks in Downing Street
DUP Westminster leader Nigel Dodds defended his party's decision to torpedo the deal Theresa May had painstakingly assembled in the EU yesterday
Mr Dodds (pictured centre with his DUP MPs today) confirmed he and party leader Arlene Foster only saw a draft of Theresa May's deal late yesterday morning and declared the 'ambiguous' wording was immediately unacceptable
Amid the turmoil, Mrs May hosted the Spanish Prime Minister in No 10 today shortly after a two-hour Cabinet meeting with her senior team. She told Mariano Rajoy 'a lot of progress' had been made on the talks so far.?
If she can patch up her divorce deal, Mrs May could return to Brussels as soon as tomorrow afternoon to seal the agreement. EU chiefs warn a deal must be finished by Friday to be signed off at a summit next week.
IRISH PM SAYS DEAL WORDING WAS CHOICE OF UK
Irish PM Leo Varadkar yesterday
The wording of the controversial Brexit deal over the Irish border was the UK's choice, Leo Varadkar said today.
The Irish PM said his team had suggested a guarantee of 'no regulatory divergence' between Northern Ireland and the Republic in key areas that affect the border.
But the British side had proposed the term 'regulatory alignment' instead.
'We satisfied ourselves on Sunday night that we could accept either of those two lines and 'regulatory alignment' was what was accepted by British advisers on Monday morning,' he told the Irish parliament this afternoon.
Mr Varadkar said 15-page proposal, had provided for three potential outcomes in a final deal.
The first was a 'UK free trade agreement that would allow free trade to continue not just north and south but between Britain and Ireland'.
The second was 'a bespoke arrangement involving technology and others things'.
And the third was a backstop for if neither of the possibilities came to fruition to ensure 'ongoing regulatory alignment between north and south'.
EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker tonight said: 'I will have a meeting with the Prime Minister in the course of this week. Maybe tomorrow, maybe the day after tomorrow - not on Friday and Saturday because I'm out of town - maybe on Sunday.' ?
Mr Davis was clearly angry as his commitment to the UK was questioned in the Commons this afternoon about the 'shambles' over the talks.
'The suggestion we might leave the EU but leave one part of the United Kingdom behind still in the single market and customs market that is emphatically not something the UK government is considering,' he said.
'So when the first minister of Wales or the first minister of Scotland starts banging the tattered drum of independence or the mayor of London says it justifies a hard border around the M25, I say they are making a foolish mistake. No UK Government would do so a foolish thing let alone a Conservative and unionist one.'
Grilled about the suggestion that the deal would have meant Northern Ireland staying aligned to Irish regulations - and thereby the EU - while the rest of the UK left, Mr Davis shot back: 'The presumption of the discussion was that everything we talked about applied to the whole United Kingdom.?
'I re-iterate: alignment isn't harmonisation, it isn't having exactly the same rules. It is sometimes having mutually recognised rules, mutually recognised inspection, all of that sort of thing as well. And that is what we are aiming for.'
The remarks chime with a statement from Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson this morning demanding that any commitments to follow regulations after Brexit apply to the whole UK rather than individual parts of the union.
Senior Brexiteers thanked the DUP leader today for standing up to Dublin, which selectively leaked parts of the agreement prompting suggesting Northern Ireland would effectively be left behind after Brexit following EU rules.?
Mr Dodds used the Commons debate to lash the Irish government for its 'aggressive and anto-unionist' behaviour and warned the leaks from Dublin which triggered the breakdown had caused 'damage' that 'is going to take a long time to repair'.??
Mrs May has been warned that caving in to Irish demands could see her kicked out of Downing Street within weeks - while friends admit she has 'two guns held to her head'.?
Despite the tough line coming from the DUP, whose 10 MPs prop Mrs May up in power, Chancellor Philip Hammond earlier insisted he was still 'very confident' that a settlement would be reached.?
According to No10, she told the gathering that she was 'very close to an agreement' and there were only a 'small number of issues' outstanding.
Scottish Secretary David Mundell warned colleagues there could be no deal that 'prejudices the integrity of the UK'.???
The latest nailbiting phase of the Brexit process comes after a last minute intervention from the DUP yesterday threw Mrs May's carefully laid plans into chaos.
The premier had to break off from lunch with European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker to field an angry call from the party's leader Arlene Foster, who had gone public with her concerns.
It emerged today that she had not seen the details of the plans before they began leaking out of Dublin. ?
Before the lunch, EU diplomats and journalists had been told to expect a 15-page document outlining details of a deal that would clear the way for trade talks to begin this month.
But later in the afternoon Mrs May and Mr Juncker faced the Press in Brussels to announce that discussions on a divorce deal had been abandoned for the day.?
During the urgent question (pictured), Mr Davis faced repeated calls from Remain-backing MPs for the Uk to stay inside the single market after Brexit
Brexiteer Boris Johnson and Home Secretary Amber Rudd smiled as they walked up the famous street for the meeting
Andrea Leadsom and Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson were among the ministers attending a Cabinet meeting today
Michael Gove and Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt were deep in conversation as they arrived for Cabinet today. Chief Secretary to the Treasury Liz Truss also attended, although Chancellor Philip Hammond was on business elsewhere
Glum: The Prime Minister and Mr Juncker emerge from their meeting yesterday without a deal ?
A senior Tory said the DUP had 'gone ballistic' over a proposed compromise which they feared would result in 'regulatory divergence' from the rest of the UK and an effective border in the Irish Sea.?
The party even threatened to pull out of a deal to prop up the Government at Westminster. 'They are seething,' the source said.?
UK COULD FOLLOW EU RULES ON ENERGY AND AGRICULTURE?
The Brexit divorce deal plans are yet to be spelled out in detail.
But it appears they could see the whole UK could accept abiding by some EU regulations in order to neutralise the Irish border issue.
According to David Davis, the move would not mean having 'exactly the same rules'.?
'It is sometimes having mutually recognised rules,' he said.?
The areas covered would be those considered essential to maintain the soft border between Northern Ireland and the Republic, such as agriculture, energy and transport.
It would mean livestock and people could continue to move freely, while the common energy market on the island of Ireland would be facilitated.
If a wider EU trade deal was signed, it would almost inevitably go much wider and deeper than the areas covered in this agreement.
But Mr Davis's comments quickly triggered gloating from Eurocrats that Mr Davis had effectively agreed to 'make?the UK kind of a regulatory protectorate of Brussels'.
DUP MP Sammy Wilson described the proposals as a 'unionist nightmare' which could lead to the break-up of the UK.
Senior Brexiteers spoke up in favour of the DUP intervention in the Commons today.
Jacob Rees-Mogg revealed his 'gratitude to the DUP for helping the government stick to its own red lines', tweeting that the party had 'saved Brexit'.?
Mr Dodds, the DUP Westminster leader, says the 'damage' caused by the aggressive Irish government to relations with Ulster is 'going to take a long time to repair' and calls Dublin's behaviour outrageous.
He says 'We will not allow any settlement to be agreed which causes divergence between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK'.
Mr Davis replied: 'He's dead right – and neither will the Conservative and Unionist party'.?
Shadow Brexit Secretary Sir Keir Starmer said the government should put staying in the single market 'back on the table' - despite Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell previously ruling the idea out.
He also insisted that the fixed date for Brexit of March 29, 2019 should be dropped, an issue that is set to be the subject of a Commons clash later this month.?
The British proposals are understood to be more subtle than the Irish leaks suggested.
Mrs May is thought to be proposing an arrangement which would require the whole UK to retain 'regulatory alignment' with the EU on a narrow range of issues that affect the Irish border. These include energy, agriculture and transport.
The UK would commit to the same regulatory outcomes in these areas as the EU, but would be free to achieve them by different routes. Crucially, the UK would be free to diverge from EU rules in all other areas.
The proposed compromise would allow Northern Ireland to retain the same rules as the Republic in critical areas without splitting from the rest of the UK.?
In the Commons today (pictured) Tory Jacob Rees-Mogg (left) revealed his 'gratitude to the DUP for helping the government stick to its own red lines' while DUP Westminster chief Nigel Dodds said it would take time to undo?the 'damage' caused by the aggressive Irish government
One senior Tory said they were hoping that Dublin would settle for an 'unenforceable form of words'.?
'If they don't, or Theresa May goes too far, then we and the DUP will withdraw support and there could be a leadership change this side of Christmas,' they added.?
A source close to Mrs May told the Telegraph she realised too late that 'two guns were being held to her head', by the DUP and Scotland.
HOW DRAMATIC TALKS COLLAPSE UNFOLDED
10.27am: Jean-Claude Juncker meets with his chief negotiator Michel Barnier and EU Parliament representative Guy Verhofstadt. He says they are working for a 'fair deal'.
11.10am: David Davis says today's talks are the culmination of seven months work by both sides and that Britain hopes to get agreement on 'sufficient progress' on divorce issues at the meeting.
11.16am: Irish broadcaster RTE reports on a leak of the draft agreement suggesting the UK will agree there will be no 'regulatory divergence' between the Republic and Northern Ireland.
12.09pm: European Commission confirms the plan for the May-Juncker lunch is to get 'as close as possible' to a deal.
12.40pm: May arrives at the talks and poses for pictures with Juncker ahead of lunch.
12.44pm: EU Council President Donald Tusk tweets 'Tell me why I like Mondays' and says he was encouraged about the prospects for a deal following talks with Irish premier Leo Varadkar.
PM Theresa May arrives in Brussels for talks with jean-Claude Juncker
12.45pm: DUP MP Sammy Wilson accuses the Irish government of leaking claims about regulatory divergence and claims the UK government will not sign up to them.
1.30pm: Nicola Sturgeon seizes on the leaks to demand Scotland gets access to the same terms as Northern Ireland.
2pm: Arlene Foster appears in front of cameras at Stormont to denounce any deal that 'separates Northern Ireland economically or politically' from the UK.
2.30pm: Varadkar postpones a statement in Dublin on Ireland's position in the talks.
3.12pm: Reports emerge Foster and May have spoken by telephone during a break in the May-Juncker lunch.
3.57pm: Juncker appears alongside May to confirm there would be no deal today but that he remains confident.
3.59pm: May insists she is 'confident we will conclude this positively' but announces talks will reconvene later in the week.
4.15pm: DUP MP Sammy Wilson appears on TV again to brand the deal a 'unionist nightmare'.
5.10pm: Tusk tweets a picture of himself and May, warning time is 'tight' but agreement is 'still possible'.
5.20pm: Varadkar finally makes his appearance in Dublin, confirming Britain was ready to sign up to an agreement. He said Ireland was ready to sign and was 'surprised and disappointed' Britain could no longer sign up.
Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson insisted any Brexit deal should apply to the whole UK - suggesting any commitment on aligning regulations on the island of Ireland would also cover England, Scotland and Wales.
'The question on the Brexit ballot paper asked voters whether the UK should stay or leave the European Union - it did not ask if the country should be divided by different deals for different home nations,' she said.
'While I recognise the complexity of the current negotiations, no government of the Conservative and Unionist Party should countenance any deal that compromises the political, economic or constitutional integrity of the United Kingdom.?
'All sides agree there should be no return to the borders of the past between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. 'Similarly, jeopardising the UK's own internal market is in no-one's interest. 'If regulatory alignment in a number of specific areas is the requirement for a frictionless border, then the Prime Minister should conclude this must be on a UK-wide basis.'?
Arriving for an EU meeting in Brussels today, Mr Hammond sounded an optimistic note.
'We're very confident that we will be able to move this forward,' he told reporters.?
'Discussions are going on right now and will go on throughout the day.'
Former top Foreign Office official Lord Ricketts said the row was 'damaging' for Mrs May and will leave EU leaders with the impression that she lacks the authority to get through Brexit negotiations.?
Former Brexit minister David Jones said 'there will be people in Downing Street who will have regretted not making the position clearer with the DUP'.?
He urged ministers not to 'ignore the parliamentary arithmetic' in which the DUP props up the minority Government, while making clear he also opposed regulatory alignment as it would hinder Britain's ability to strike new free trade deals around the world.?
'I think we need to ensure that the DUP are on board with whatever is proposed and I think it's fairly clear that yesterday they were not on board - the fact that they managed to stall the negotiations yesterday, I think, demonstrates the precise strength of their position so I don't think it should be under-estimated at all,' he said.?
Mrs May will spend today in talks with Cabinet colleagues and political leaders in both the north and south of Ireland as she tries to find a way through the deadlock.
She is then expected to head back to Brussels tomorrow to resume talks with Mr Juncker.
The Prime Minister yesterday insisted progress had been made, but acknowledged that on 'a couple of issues some differences do remain which require further negotiation and consultation'.
Mr Juncker described Mrs May as a 'tough negotiator' but said he remained 'very confident' a deal would be agreed this week.
EU Council president Donald Tusk had set yesterday as the 'absolute deadline' for agreement.?
Last night he said time was 'very tight'. But No 10 said a summit of EU leaders on December 14/15 was the real deadline – giving Mrs May ten days to save the talks.
Allies of the PM said that, unlike David Cameron, she had not accepted the first deal offered by Brussels.
One said Dublin and Brussels had tried to 'bounce' her into a deal by briefing broadcast media that it was all but done.
The talks foundered after sources in Dublin and Brussels leaked draft versions of a text they hoped to agree with Mrs May on the status of the Irish border.
The leaks suggested the PM was willing to sign a deal that would allow Northern Ireland 'no regulatory divergence' from Dublin, effectively tying it to the EU's customs union.
A later leak said the UK had agreed Northern Ireland would remain in 'regulatory alignment' with the EU in some key areas.
Nicola Sturgeon, London Mayor Sadiq Khan and Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones seized on the claims to demand that Scotland, London and Wales remain tied to the customs union and single market.?
SNP leader Miss Sturgeon said: 'If one part of UK can retain regulatory alignment with EU and effectively stay in the single market … there is surely no good practical reason why others can't.'
Conservative Eurosceptics have warned Mrs May against further compromise over the Irish border and the role of the European Court of Justice in policing EU citizens' rights after Brexit.
Tory ex-leader Iain Duncan Smith said: 'We have to be very careful. Northern Ireland cannot see any regulatory divergence from the UK. And we cannot get into a position where EU citizens have more rights than British citizens.'?
Nicola Sturgeon and Sadiq Khan have seized on claims about the consequences of the proposed deal to argue that Scotland should be given similar leeway to 'stay in the single market'
WHAT ARE THE EU RULES THAT APPLY IN IRELAND?
Regulatory convergence between Northern Ireland and the Republic after Brexit could cover a whole gamut of different rules.
As members of the single market, Ireland accepts the free movement of goods, services, capital and people.
Financial services companies have the ability to work freely across the continent without jumping through additional bureaucratic hoops.
They also have standardised EU rules in areas such as safety, quality standards, and working hours.
Ireland's membership of the EU customs union, meanwhile, means there are no tariffs on goods traded within the bloc.?
And the same tariffs are applied to goods from outside the union.
As a result of being in the customs union, Ireland cannot negotiate its own free trade deals with other countries.
WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF BORDER??
This would include customs and security checks, border controls, posts and guards to monitor who and what is travelling over from the Republic of Ireland to Northern Ireland, and vice versa.
The UK, EU and the Republic of Ireland have all agreed there can be no return to the hard border of the past, fearing this could reignite the sectarian violence of The Troubles.
A soft border would mean no security or border checks between the two territories - essentially maintaining the status quo.
Under this plan goods and people will be free to cross from one side to the other without any checks or documentation.?
It has been proposed that an 'invisible border' can be erected via a new?high-tech system.
Under this plan, number plate recognition technology and spot vehicle checks could be used to carry out customs checks.
While it has been suggested that Northern Ireland and the Republic both create squads of flying border guards to police potential smuggling routes from the skies.
Q&A: The Brexit deal derailment explained
What prevented a deal?
The thorny issue of what happens to the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic after Brexit. It combines the intractable politics of the peace process, the delicate Conservative/DUP coalition and the complexity of Brexit. The EU has accepted Mrs May's offer on money and a deal is close on the rights of EU nationals in the UK. But all three issues must be agreed by December 14 if the talks are to move on to trade.
Why is the border a problem?
After Brexit, Northern Ireland will have the only land border between the UK and the EU. With Britain leaving the single market and the customs union – but the Republic staying inside both – there are questions about how to move goods over the 300 crossing points along the 310-mile frontier.
What does each side want?
Dublin – backed by the EU – says there must be no 'hard border' involving customs checks for fear of undermining peace accords. Irish ministers have suggested Northern Ireland should stay inside the customs union. But Mrs May – and the DUP – could never agree, as it amounts to breaking up the integrity of the United Kingdom.
How far apart were the sides?
Government sources played down the prospect of a deal after Mrs May arrived for talks with Brussels chiefs yesterday, describing the meeting as a 'staging post'. But EU officials briefed that a deal was imminent, in what was seen as an attempt by to 'bounce' Mrs May into an agreement.
What went wrong?
At just after 11am, details of a draft deal were leaked to Irish media. They were interpreted as suggesting the UK would agree to single market and customs union rules north of the border and that Mrs May had capitulated. They were seized upon by SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon and London mayor Sadiq Khan, who demanded separate deals for Scotland and the capital.
What did the DUP say?
DUP leader Arlene Foster denounced any deal that 'separates Northern Ireland economically or politically from the rest of the UK'. 'The economic and constitutional integrity of the United Kingdom will not be compromised in any way', she said.
The Prime Minister was forced to leave a lunch meeting to speak to Mrs Foster who – it soon became clear – had not agreed the wording of the draft deal. Tory MPs insisted the UK's integrity must not be undermined in a sign of deep disquiet that Mrs May appeared ready to agree the proposal.
What does No10 say?
Officials dispute the Irish interpretation of the text. They argue that the suggestion of aligning regulations would only have applied to specific aspects of the Good Friday Agreement, including energy, agriculture and transport. The language appears designed to be palatable to both sides until trade is on the table and a detailed agreement is possible. But the way the story emerged has hardened positions in Belfast and among Tory MPs.
What happens next?
Mrs May is expected to talk to the DUP today and return to Brussels on Wednesday.??????
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