Theresa May’s Brexit deal looks doomed as the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) signalled the prime minister has once again failed to win their backing.
A fresh round of talks with the government’s confidence-and-supply partners had got underway last week after the PM’s agreement fell to another humiliating Commons defeat.
But DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds has now released a statement, saying Thursday’s European Council summit in Brussels represented the PM’s last chance to secure the Northern Irish party’s support and it had been a “failure”.
“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,” he said.
“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.”
As we have always said, negotiations with the EU inevitably go down to the wire and the Government has been far too willing to capitulate before securing the necessary changes which would get an agreement through the House of Commons. 1/2 pic.twitter.com/0eGib0V6JF— Nigel Dodds (@NigelDoddsDUP) March 22, 2019
We have been very clear that we want a deal which delivers on the referendum result and which works for all parts of the U.K. and for the EU.— Nigel Dodds (@NigelDoddsDUP) March 22, 2019
But it must be a deal that protects the Union. That remains our abiding principle. 2/2 pic.twitter.com/TVQopbbHnG
May had hoped to convince them she could win legally-binding changes to the Northern Irish backstop.
He added: “Nothing has changed as far as the withdrawal agreement is concerned. We will not accept any deal which poses a long-term risk to the constitutional and economic integrity of the United Kingdom.”
It leaves the PM with few allies in the Commons as attempts to woo Labour MPs with cash for northern towns and pledges on workers’ rights fall flat.
The third meaningful vote on her Brexit deal, which is due to take place early next week, looks set to once again end in a government defeat.
It is thought parliament may hold a series of indicative votes in a desperate last-minute bid to find a way forward before the UK risks crashing out of the bloc without deal.
European Council president Donald Tusk has granted the UK an extension to the Article 50 deadline to May 22, on the condition that parliament can agree a Brexit deal.