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DUP threatens to vote down the BUDGET if May breaks their red lines

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Is the government FALLING APART? DUP rebels against Tories by abstaining from Commons vote as party threatens to shoot down the Budget over Theresa May's Brexit deal for Northern Ireland

  • The party's 10 MPs did not vote on a Labour amendment to an agriculture bill
  • Party sources have said they could sink the Government by blocking the Budget
  • DUP MPs are keeping the PM in power after she failed to win an overall majority

By James Tapsfield, Political Editor, For Mailonline

Published: 09:05 EDT, 10 October 2018 | Updated: 16:23 EDT, 10 October 2018

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Theresa May's government was plunged into uncertainty tonight after the DUP abstained from a Commons vote and threatened to shoot down the Budget.

The party's 10 MPs did not take part in a fairly routine vote on a Labour amendment to the Agriculture Bill tonight.

However sources within the DUP said it was a warning shot to the PM and that they could bring down the Government by voting against the Budget on October 29.

Although the party has only 10 MPs they hold the balance of the power because the Conservatives fell nine short of a majority with 317 MPs.

They agreed to support Mrs May after the general election after she sanctioned to a £1billion deal for extra spending on Northern Ireland.   

A source told the Telegraph tonight that DUP members' abstention in the Commons 'gives an indication that we are not reassured' by a meeting today with Government whips.

They met senior Tories today as party sources said it would be 'unacceptable' for Northern Ireland and mainland Britain to be 'treated differently' under a Brexit deal. 

Party leader Arlene Foster has warned that her line against anything that would risk splitting the UK is 'blood red'.

The £1billion deal with the DUP keeping Theresa May in power  

The DUP's MPs are keeping the Conservatives in power thanks to a deal last year to spend an extra £1billion on Northern Ireland. 

Theresa May's failed election gamble left the Conservatives without a majority in the House of Commons.

But with the DUP and its 10 MPs agreeing to support the Tories Mrs May can command a narrow majority. 

The deal announced last June was immediately branded a 'bung'. 

It also included new flexibility over £500million of previously allocated cash.  

Labour said the deal could eventually be worth as much as £2billion, which would normally imply £59billion of extra spending in England, £6billion in Scotland and £3billion in Wales.

The agreement guaranteed the DUP would vote with the Tories on the Queen’s Speech, the Budget, and legislation relating to Brexit and national security. 

The sabre-rattling came as Mrs May races against time to hammer out a divorce deal with Brussels. 

The premier is hoping to unlock the negotiations with new proposals for a 'backstop' to avoid a hard Irish border.

It could effectively keep the whole UK in the customs union as a 'temporary' measure until a broader trade agreement is finalised based on her Chequers blueprint. 

But there are also likely to be increased regulatory checks in the Irish sea to protect the EU single market - something that could destroy relations with the DUP.

Losing a vote on the Budget would previously have been seen as a confidence issue, leading to the end of the government. 

However, Downing Street suggested that was not the case any more and Mrs May would still press on as PM.

'It is unacceptable that we would be treated differently to the rest of the UK,' a DUP source told Sky News and the BBC.

'We will not be bounced into anything. If Theresa May doesn't take our concerns on board, she may not be the leader to take us through Brexit.' 

A DUP spokesman said: 'The Government is well aware of our position on this issue. Our position hasn't changed and we don't expect the Government will change its position.' 

At a bad-tempered PMQs today, Mrs May defended her approach and urged Remainers and Eurosceptics to act in the 'national interest'.

But in a stark message to MPs hoping to overturn the result of the referendum she also warned: 'It is our duty to ensure that we leave.'  

Mrs May insists she will not accept EU demands for Northern Ireland to be hived off from the rest of the UK within the EU's customs jurisdiction. 

DUP leader Arlene Foster (pictured in Brussels this week) has warned that her line against anything that would risk splitting the UK is 'blood red'
DUP leader Arlene Foster (pictured in Brussels this week) has warned that her line against anything that would risk splitting the UK is 'blood red'

DUP leader Arlene Foster (pictured in Brussels this week) has warned that her line against anything that would risk splitting the UK is 'blood red'

At a bad-tempered PMQs today, Mrs May defended her approach and urged Remainers and Eurosceptics to act in the 'national interest 
At a bad-tempered PMQs today, Mrs May defended her approach and urged Remainers and Eurosceptics to act in the 'national interest 

At a bad-tempered PMQs today, Mrs May defended her approach and urged Remainers and Eurosceptics to act in the 'national interest 

Michel Barnier (pictured in Brussels today) is leading the negotiations from the EU side
Michel Barnier (pictured in Brussels today) is leading the negotiations from the EU side

Michel Barnier (pictured in Brussels today) is leading the negotiations from the EU side

Barnier warns 'decisive' progress is needed on Brexit within a week 

Michel Barnier today warned that 'decisive' progress on Brexit is needed before next week's EU summit. 

The negotiator delivered the message as he briefed top officials in Brussels behind closed doors.

The commission's top civil servant Martin Selmayr also urged the Eurocrats to step up preparations for a no-deal outcome.

The two sides still seem deadlocked on issues including the Irish border with just a week to go before the crunch summit.

But Mr Barnier suggested there needed to be movement in order to pave the way for a deal at a special summit in November.

Reports had suggested that Mr Barnier would present a draft paper setting out EU proposals for future trade.

However, that has been delayed amid fears it could fuel tensions.

Speaking after Mr Barnier's briefing, Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas told reporters: 'He recalled that decisive progress must be made in time for the October European Council next week.

'Negotiations at technical level will continue this week.'

Mr Selmayr provided an update on preparations for Brexit, and reminded commissioners of 'the importance for all stakeholders to prepare for all outcomes at all levels', said Mr Schinas.

Her alternative 'backstop' plan is designed to fall away in favour of a Chequers-style trade arrangement - that would effectively keep the UK in the single market for goods to keep the borders open. 

However, even if Mrs May can secure an agreement with the EU and win over the DUP, it is far from certain that she will be able to get it past Parliament.

Jeremy Corbyn says he would oppose arrangements that do not keep the UK more closely tied to Brussels - although there are claims that dozens of Labour MPs could defy him.

Ms Foster, who is in Brussels for meetings, said today: 'Firstly, it is clear from our meetings that any form of border in Irish Sea will impede access for Northern Ireland to new UK trade deals. That removes one of the key benefits of leaving the EU. 

'Secondly, best of both worlds is not on offer. The EU wants a one-way turnstile from GB and one-way rules from Brussels. 

'Thirdly, if we have a regulatory border, the problem is not on day one after leaving the problems arise in the years after we leave. 

'Northern Ireland will have to follow EU rules, with no power to influence them and have limited access to the UK single market.' 

The issues could come to a head at Cabinet on Tuesday, with several ministers on 'resignation watch'.

Government sources told The Times they were expecting to be ambushed and told to get on board with the plan or resign. 'Will they 'do a Chequers' and say back it or f*** off,' the source asked.

Aid Secretary Penny Mordaunt raised fresh doubts about Mrs May's position yesterday by repeatedly stopping short of giving explicit backing to her Chequers blueprint.

Meanwhile, former Brexit secretary David Davis warned of 'dire'consequences for Conservatives at the next general election if the Government sticks to its negotiating stance on EU withdrawal.

In a letter to fellow Tory MPs, he said a deal based on Mrs May's Chequers plan would deliver 'none of the benefits of Brexit' and reduce the UK to being 'a rule-taker from Brussels'.

The missive part of a coordinated 'grid' of action by Eurosceptics designed to force a change of course from Mrs May. 

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has tried to cool tempers by urging unity behind Mrs May's efforts to secure a Brexit deal. 

'I think that the Prime Minister is doing an excellent job in difficult circumstances and I think that she has got to make the judgments about how we land a good deal, so I'm backing the Prime Minister to get a good deal and I think the whole nation should get behind her,' he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme. 

'We are entering the end phase of these negotiations, we all know that EU negotiations tend to run up to the last minute and the person to make the judgments on getting the best deal in the national interest is the Prime Minister.'

In the Commons last night, Mr Raab differences remained between the UK and EU on the withdrawal agreement but insisted 'we are closing in on workable solutions'.

He told Tory Brexiteers their calls for a Canada-style trade deal would be a 'shortcut to no deal'.

Arlene Foster (pictured left with DUP Westminster leader Nigel Dodds) has warned Mrs May to respect the DUP's 'blood red' line that no new checks are brought in between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK after Brexit
Arlene Foster (pictured left with DUP Westminster leader Nigel Dodds) has warned Mrs May to respect the DUP's 'blood red' line that no new checks are brought in between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK after Brexit

Arlene Foster (pictured left with DUP Westminster leader Nigel Dodds) has warned Mrs May to respect the DUP's 'blood red' line that no new checks are brought in between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK after Brexit

Former Brexit Secretary David Davis warned Chequers could cost the Tories the next election in a letter to fellow MPs yesterday
Former Brexit Secretary David Davis warned Chequers could cost the Tories the next election in a letter to fellow MPs yesterday

Former Brexit Secretary David Davis warned Chequers could cost the Tories the next election in a letter to fellow MPs yesterday

Irish Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney warned of 'carnage' if Britain crashed out of the EU but said he believed it was 'unlikely' that would happen.

Mrs May told her Cabinet yesterday that Britain will not accept an EU withdrawal deal without a 'precise' political declaration setting out how its requirements on trade and security will be delivered.

Despite optimistic comments from senior EU figures about the prospect of progress at the October 17-18 European Council summit, the PM made clear that agreement has not yet been reached on key issues including the Irish border. 

How does Theresa May's Chequers deal compare with a Canada-style free trade deal?

CHEQUERS

Trade:

Britain would stick to EU rules on goods by adopting a 'Common rulebook' with Brussels, but in the services sector.

Theresa May says this would allow the UK strike free trade deals globally, but the scope would be limited by commitments to the EU.

The blueprint should minimise the need for extra checks at the borders - protecting the 'just in time' systems used by the car industry to import and export parts.

The UK Parliament could choose to diverge from these EU rules over time.

But there is an admission that this would 'have consequences'.

Customs:

Britain would set up something called a Facilitated Customs Arrangement.

This would see the UK effectively act as the EU's taxman - using British officials to collect customs which would then be paid on to the bloc. 

The borders between the UK and EU will be treated as a 'combined customs territory'.

The UK would apply domestic tariffs and trade policies for goods intended for the UK, but charge EU tariffs and their equivalents for goods which will end up heading into the EU.

Northern Ireland: 

Mrs May says her plan will prevent a hard Irish border, and mean no divergence between Northern Ireland and mainland Britain.

There would be no need for extra border checks, as tariffs on goods would be the same.

Single market origin rules and regulations would also be sufficiently aligned to avoid infrastructure.

 CANADA-STYLE

Trade: 

Britain would strike a Canada-style free trade deal with the EU, meaning goods can flow both ways without tariffs.

As it is a simple free trade deal, Britain would not be bound by the rules and red tape drawn up in Brussels.

The arrangement would be a relatively clean break from the EU - but would fall far short of full access to the single market.

Eurosceptics have suggested 'Canada plus' in key areas such as services and mutual recognition of standards.

The UK would have broad scope to strike free trade deals around the world.

Customs:

Technology would be used to avoid extra customs checks on the borders.

As a result goods travelling into the UK from the EU and vice versa would be tracked and customs paid without extra checks.

The EU has suggested this is 'magical thinking'. 

Northern Ireland:

The EU says the Canada model would mean border controls are required between Northern Ireland and the Republic to protect the single market and customs union.

It insists Northern Ireland must stay in the bloc's customs jurisdiction in order to prevent that.

Mrs May has signalled she agrees with the analysis - seemingly the reason she is reluctant to go down this route.

But Brexiteers point out that there is already a tax border between the UK and Ireland, and say technology and trusted trader schemes can avoid the need for more infrastructure. 

 

 

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