The Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party is threatening to vote against Theresa May – and with as many as 40 Eurosceptic Tories – on a motion to make the European Union’s proposal for a border ‘backstop’ effectively illegal.
The tactic is the clearest signal yet that the alliance between the Conservative government and the DUP – the only thing keeping Mrs May in Downing Street – is at the point of collapse.
This is despite Mrs May having given the DUP a £1 billion bung in return for its support.
DUP will back amendment being tabled by Tory Eurosceptics on Wednesday that will effectively make the EU’s NI backstop illegal
Yet another headache for No 10, with 40 Tory MP already poised to support it.
— Steven Swinford (@Steven_Swinford) October 22, 2018
Mrs May’s position on the Irish border was muddied in a discussion of the issue in the Commons, when the Economic Secretary to the Treasury, John Glen, seemed unable to give a straight answer. As if the government were unsure what to do in the light of the DUP’s threatened betrayal?
I'm in the depths of despair !
Just listened to Tory #Brexit Minister replying to an "Urgent Question"on EU Customs Union
Stumbling & blethering his way through & keeps referring to an imminent statement by the PM who has very clearly cut him out of the loop
He hasn't got a CLUE,
— Clare Hepworth OBE (@Hepworthclare) October 22, 2018
Mrs May’s position worsened in the debate immediately following, when Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab made a false statement. David Lammy explains:
Raab suggesting no amendment could delay Article 50. Nonsense. In case Brexiteers have forgotten, Parliament is sovereign.
— David Lammy (@DavidLammy) October 22, 2018
Mr Raab was suggesting that Parliament could not delay the UK’s departure from the EU because it was subject to an international agreement. But this was not true because Parliamentary sovereignty means it is not tied to decisions made by other bodies (and it never was, even though that was one reason people were encouraged to support leaving the EU in the referendum).
When Mrs May herself stood up to provide a report on last week’s summit with other EU leaders, she fared no better. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn summed up her position thus:
Instead of taking back control, this Tory Government is giving away our say and paying for the privilege. pic.twitter.com/UO6b2N9auJ
— Jeremy Corbyn (@jeremycorbyn) October 22, 2018
Mrs May protested that a Brexit deal was 95 per cent complete – and this provided an opportunity for hilarity:
— Dan Lewis (@Think_Become) October 22, 2018
It seems the remainder of Mrs May’s Brexit journey may well mimic that of the Titanic.
With the DUP poised to betray her, and her own backbenchers preparing to stab her “in the front”*, it seems she may sink without a trace before the end of the week.
*Many have deplored the use of this kind of language, including Labour’s Jess Phillips – who has been ridiculed for doing so. After all, she once threatened to metaphorically stab her own party leader, Jeremy Corbyn, in exactly the same place.
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