The DUP’s Brexit spokesman Sammy Wilson has said that the party will stand firm over their opposition to Theresa May’s Brexit deal, and that he hopes her ‘Plan B’ will see negotiations with the EU not “done in the spineless way they have been in the past”.
Mr Wilson told Julia Hartley-Brewer that he was pleased Mrs May committed to keeping the date of leaving the EU as March 29, calling that a “very important decision”.
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He also criticised the Labour party for “moving down the route of a second referendum” - the party submitted an amendment on Monday night calling for MPs to able to vote on whether to have one, although leader Jeremy Corbyn has not officially endorsed a second vote.
“To me, that would be a betrayal of the referendum of 2016,” Mr Wilson said.
In a statement to the Commons on Monday, Mrs May promised to be more “inclusive” with Brexit discussions in parliament, and said conversations on how to move forward and secure a Brexit deal could also be held in private with select committees.
She also committed to working towards an agreement on the Irish border, saying: “We will work to identify how we can ensure that our commitment to no hard border in Northern Ireland and Ireland can be delivered in a way that commands the support of this House, and the European Union.”
Mr Wilson said the Irish backstop was the biggest sticking point for the DUP.
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“The backstop was designed in the first place to keep Britain within the single market and the customs union, and to me that would not be Brexit at all.
“We’d be tied in the EU and wouldn’t have the freedom of our own trade deals.
“I hope her Plan B is simply to go back to the EU using the leverage she now has, to ensure negotiations this time are done in the spineless way they’ve been done in the past.”
Negotiators should be 'passionate about leaving'
He added that he was “always unclear as to whether she’s [Mrs May] the one handing all these things over [to the EU], or whether the civil service negotiators who she’s given far too much freedom to are the ones who’ve done this”.
“They have an incentive because they don’t really want to see any change,” he added, and said he’d like to see her “change the team negotiating on her behalf to people who are passionate about leaving”.
“Will the DUP stand firm against the agreement?” asked Hartley-Brewer.
“We can’t afford not to stand firm,” Mr Wilson replied.
“This withdrawal agreement is so bad for the UK, it treats Northern Ireland differently constitutionally, and cuts Northern Ireland off from its main market, Great Britain, economically. We can’t afford to budge an inch.”