Theresa May under pressure as Irish border plan falls through
Theresa May is under pressure from all sides to get the Brexit talks back on track after Northern Ireland's DUP refused to accept the deal on the Irish border.
The deal proposed, which implied that Northern Ireland would have a regulatory divergence to maintain a soft border, was brought down by the opposition of the DUP. The leader of the party, Arlene Foster, stated that they would not accept a deal where Northern Ireland receives a special status that divides it from the rest of the UK.
On Tuesday, prime minister Theresa May intended to discuss the subject with the DUP to come to an agreement and resume talks with the EU.
Unfortunately for May, the leader of the DUP, has decided against meeting with her (May) and in Arlene Foster's stead, Nigel Dodds, DUP's Westminster leader will meet the Government´s chief whip, Julian Smith to try and get to an agreement. This could further delay Theresa May's talks in Brussels.
According to the Telegraph, the DUP were not shown the 15 page draft for the Northern Ireland border deal before May discussed it with the EU. One source said: “The DUP are not the sort of people you can bounce into an agreement they don’t like. If that means they walk away from the table, they walk away from the table.”
The British prime minister said: "On many of the issues there is a common understanding and crucially it is clear we want to move forward together." She added that there are a few issues where differences remain and require further negotiation but that she is confident that they will conclude positively by the end of the week.
"We don’t want to pick a row with anyone, there’s no hidden agenda" Leo Varadkar
In spite of May’s confidence, the fall through of the deal has caused quite the uproar on the different sides. The Irish prime minister Leo Varadkar spoke out about the deal after being accused by the DUP leader Arlene Foster of taking advantage of the situation for their own political agenda.
“That’s always been our approach in this. The motivation of the Irish Government is to try to maintain the status quo in Ireland, allowing people to continue with their normal lives, cross the Border as they do now. We don’t want to pick a row with anyone, there’s no hidden agenda here," Varadkar said.
He also added that he is “disappointed” and “surprised” in the U-turn that the British government took regarding the agreement:
"I acknowledge that Theresa May is negotiating in good faith. My position is unequivocal. Ireland wants to proceed to phase two. We cannot agree unless there are firm guarantees on the lack of a hard Border in any circumstances. I still hope this matter can be concluded in the coming days."
On the other hand prominent Brexiteers like former Ukip leader Nigel Farage back the DUP’s refusal of the deal and advise Theresa May to rule out any deals that would mean treating Northern Ireland differently. Conservative MP, Jacob Rees-Mogg said: “We are not going to trade on distinctions between Great Britain and Northern Ireland. That would be completely intolerable."
Theresa May is in the spotlight and she must show her ability to deliver a solution for the Irish question and get Brexit talks onto phase two (or the trade talks).
The situation is also concerning for the EU, since the member states will have less than a week to approve the agreement. Furthermore, the pound is also suffering as the crisis develops. it dropped yesterday 0,4% against the dollar and the euro. The FTSE only managed a 0.2% rise early on and just reaching the 7350 mark.