DUP’s Foster challenges May with 'blood red lines' over new Brexit ‘backstop’

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The European commission official conceded that the EU plan for the province would involve "administrative procedures that do not exist today for goods travelling to the Northern Ireland from rest of the UK", with checks on live animals increasing tenfold.

The party's 10 MPs have propped up the Tory government since May lost her Commons majority in the snap general election a year ago.

Foster has said that is part of her "blood red lines" over Brexit. "If Theresa May doesn't take our concerns on board, we will take the view that she is not the leader to take us through to a safe Brexit".

With more than 40 Conservative MPs ready to vote down the May plan, it is understood that the DUP are acting "in lock-step" with the backbench European Research Group (ERG).

DUP MP Sammy Wilson has said his party "will not be bullied" into propping up Theresa May's Government if she gives in to the "outrageous, capricious and extortionate" demands of Brussels on Northern Ireland.

"My estimate is that there are at least 40 colleagues who are not going to accept a "half in, half out" Chequers deal or indeed a backstop that leaves us in the internal market and the customs union".

In Northern Ireland, 86 per cent of Leave voters believe Scottish independence would be acceptable if meant securing the UK's withdrawal from the EU.

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The UK government has responded to the DUP's position by working on plans for an alternative backstop which would see the whole of the UK remain in the customs union - but that's opposed by some of May's own MPs.

In order to make progress on the UK's withdrawal agreement at a European Council summit next week, Brussels and London must agree plans for a "backstop" to maintain the status quo along the Irish land border, with trade flowing freely between the Republic of Ireland and the north.

The DUP issued the threat by briefing broadcasters.

However other supporters of the PM fear the Northern Ireland party could be overplaying its hand and May will have to face them down as she did over a similar row last December.

"Whoever leads the Conservative Party we will work with as it's in the national interest".

Just minutes before the news broke that the DUP is considering voting down the budget, a Downing Street source was asked if Mrs May felt she could rely on DUP votes in parliament.

Michel Barnier has claimed a Brexit deal is within reach by next Wednesday but warned the prime minister that only by abandoning a key red line and agreeing to a customs union can impediments on trade between Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom be avoided. But he stressed: "Brexit was not our choice".

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