DUP rules out backing May over 'con job' backstop
The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) has ruled out supporting British Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit deal, branding the backstop a "con job".
The party's Brexit spokesperson, Sammy Wilson, said there was no way the party could be convinced to back the deal after the party's deputy leader met with Mrs May in Downing Street for crunch talks. Mr Wilson also hit out at the Irish Government when asked if the party had been reassured by signals coming from the EU on the backstop.
"In fact, we're more alarmed about what is coming out from the EU and especially the Irish Government," he said.
The EU has said it is willing to offer clarity and assurances on the withdrawal deal and the backstop but has ruled out re-opening the agreement.
Mr Wilson suggested that Northern Ireland's farmers and businesses should be "totally relaxed" by the prospect of a no-deal Brexit and said Ireland should be worried by the spectre of a hard Brexit.
"If anyone should be worried about the tariffs on beef and sheep then it should be the Irish because, of course, we, the United Kingdom, are net importers of food," he said.
Businesses in Northern Ireland should be more alarmed about the deal on the table, according to Mr Wilson, as he claims it will cut Northern Ireland off from the British market and lock it out of future trade deals.
The latest intervention by the DUP underlines the unfavourable make-up of the parliamentary arithmetic in the House of Commons for Mrs May.
The embattled Tory leader needs 318 votes to get the deal through parliament but without the DUP and with a third of her party voting against her in a pre-Christmas confidence vote, she needs to win over much of her own party as well as convincing some opposition MPs to cross the floor.