No-deal Brexit 'probably inevitable', DUP says

Ashley Cowburn

The UK's departure from the European Union without a deal is "probably inevitable", the Democratic Unionist Party's Brexit spokesman has said.

"Given the way in which the EU has behaved and the corner they've put Theresa May into, there's no deal which I can see at present which will command a majority in the House of Commons," the DUP's Sammy Wilson told the Belfast News Letter.

Hitting out at the "intransigence" of the EU's negotiating stance, he added: "It is probably inevitable that we will end up with a no deal scenario."

The remarks from Mr Wilson follow a last-minute visit to Brussels by the Brexit secretary Dominic Raab - prompting a flurry of excitement that a deal was close.

But Raab has returned home within hours and Michel Barnier, the EU's chief Brexit negotiator, said that "despite intense efforts, some key issues are still open", in particular how the proposed "backstop" can guarantee no new hard border in Ireland.

Mr Wilson added: "I think that anybody looking at it objectively would say that what is on offer from the EU is a far worse deal than a no deal, and therefore she’d be mad to be railroaded into accepting it.”

On Sunday, it also emerged that Arlene Foster, the leader of the DUP, whose party is responsible for propping up the prime minister's fragile government through a supply and confidence agreement, made similar remarks in private emails.

According to the Observer, Ms Foster told a Conservative MEP that a no-deal Brexit was the "likeliest" outcome in the negotiations and that her party was "ready" for the UK to crash out of the bloc without a deal.

Ms Foster has said that she would not accept any border checks and warned Ms May not to accept a “dodgy” deal. “The DUP’s actions this week are not as some have suggested about ‘flexing muscle’,” she said.

“This is no game. Anyone engaging in this in a light-hearted way foolishly fails to grasp the gravity of the decisions we will make in the coming weeks.”

The DUP has also warned its MPs could vote against the Budget later this month, which could in turn trigger a vote of no-confidence if the government is defeated.

“That may lead to a different leader. But that’s not a question for us, we’re not members of the Conservative Party,” Mr Wilson added last week.