Northern Irish party threatens to topple Theresa May's United Kingdom government

  • Northern Irish party threatens to topple Theresa May's United Kingdom government

Northern Irish party threatens to topple Theresa May's United Kingdom government

Suspicions remain among hardline Tory Brexiteers that Mrs May is heading for a compromise which could tie the United Kingdom to European Union customs arrangements indefinitely - something which Boris Johnson has warned would reduce Britain to a "permanent European Union colony".

London hopes to resolve the issue with a future trade deal, but agrees there should be a "backstop" arrangement to avoid physical frontier checks until that deal is done.

However Brexiteers - including Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab - are insisting any arrangement which would see the United Kingdom effectively remain part of the customs union while negotiations over a free trade deal take place must be strictly time-limited - something the EU has been resisting.

Those present included Jeremy Hunt, the foreign secretary, David Lidington, the Cabinet Office minister, Sajid Javid, the home secretary, and Michael Gove, the environment secretary. 'An bad lot depends on the talks in the coming days'.

The 27 European Union leaders meeting next Wednesday in Brussels want to be able to announce "decisive progress" on the Brexit deal to agree to hold another summit in November. "That was the case on Monday and it remains the case today", the prime minister's official spokesman said.

Commenting on the Irish backstop, Barnier said the EU's plan to keep Northern Ireland in the Single Market and customs union would help keep the border invisible - a goal of both sets of negotiators.

Downing Street has insisted defeat on the Budget would not amount to a vote of no confidence in the government, but there is no doubt the rhetoric of recent days has ratcheted up the Brexit brinkmanship.

Barnier said customs forms could be completed in advance online and the "only visible systematic checks" would involve scanning bar codes on lorries or containers on ferries or in ports.

However, Mrs Foster said the EU's proposals would place "an effective one-way turnstile" between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.

May's Conservative party has relied on the DUP's 10 MPs to pass legislation since losing its majority in the House of Commons in the June 2017 election.

Whitehall sources said before the meeting that they expected that key members of the cabinet would also discuss how to handle the DUP.

"In the next two weeks we'll be deciding what we're going to do and I think, in all honesty Tamara, that everything is on the table, and the implications of that are clear", he said.