DUP MPs send a warning signal to May over Brexit deal

#Brexit special section In the media

Prime Minister Theresa May appears to have lost the support of the party that has kept her Government in power since last year’s general election.

The ten MPs of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) abstained on Monday in a crunch vote over the Budget in what was described as a ‘warning shot’ to Mrs May.

As fears over a no confidence vote from her own MPs over her proposed EU withdrawal deal fade, the DUP threw a new obstacle in Mrs May’s path.

They say her deal with the EU has broken promises made to them over Brexit when the ‘confidence and supply’ deal to prop up her Government was agreed.

Under the deal, the DUP had pledged to support the government on Budget issues and in any confidence votes.

The DUP leader Arlene Foster said Mrs May’s proposed Brexit deal was a ‘dodgy’ one that she would live to regret.

Her MPs responded to what they saw as Mrs May’s betrayal by abstaining in Commons votes on a string of amendments to the Finance Bill on Monday.

They also backed Labour’s amendment calling for a Treasury report on the impact of government policies on child poverty to be published.

DUP Brexit spokesman Sammy Wilson told BBC2’s Newsnight programme: “We had to do something to show our displeasure,”

He said Mrs May’s Brexit deal with the EU had breached an assurance that Northern Ireland would not be separated from the rest of the UK by any agreement.

Labour’s shadow cabinet office minister Jon Trickett questioned how long the Government could carry on without the DUP’s support.

He said: “We no longer have a functioning government. With Brexit a few months away something has got to give.”

But Labour missed the chance to win the vote on their amendment, as they were not aware the DUP would back them and did not have enough MPs in the House, losing by five votes.

The Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who had put the amendment forward, was one of those who was absent from the vote.

Mrs May claims her Brexit deal honours the result of the Brexit referendum and will allow the UK to take back control of its borders and laws.

But with Labour, the, DUP, SNP and a growing number of her own MPs expected to vote against the deal in Parliament, the odds are against it getting through.

She is due to meet European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker in Brussels tomorrow ahead of a special EU Brexit summit on Sunday.

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