Morning Briefing: DUP won't be duped - an honest speech from May - heart trials halted
The DUP won't be duped. If Theresa May tries to fudge a Brexit deal in a way that could leave Northern Ireland semi-detached from the rest of the UK, the Democratic Unionist Party will pull the plug on her government. That was the stark warning given by two of its top leaders yesterday.
The prime minister, of course, insists that she is doing nothing of the sort - that she is determined to preserve “our precious union”. But at the same time her Brexit secretary has said he is looking at how regulatory checks between Northern Ireland and Great Britain might work - so her government is speaking with a forked tongue.
The DUP leader Arlene Foster said: "We cannot have either a customs border or a regulatory border down the Irish Sea." Meanwhile, the party’s leader in the House of Commons told the Guardian “we will vote against” May if she returns from Brussels with a deal that involves new checks on goods coming into Northern Ireland from Britain.
One mooted solution to the Irish border issue is for the UK to agree a legally-watertight “backstop” in our withdrawal agreement, detailing how Northern Ireland could have to follow EU rules and customs procedures, but come up with reassuring language in the accompanying political declaration suggesting that this backstop will never be used. Dodds said the party would not be fobbed off with such guarantees: “The deal on the future relationship will have to be crystal clear and not a fudge, we won’t settle for any vague outline of a future relationship in exchange for a backstop, that is simply not going to happen.”
Meanwhile May is trying to play the Northern Ireland card in her battle with Boris Johnson. She said she was “cross” about his rabble-rousing speech to the Conservative conference yesterday because "he wanted to tear up our guarantee to the people of Northern Ireland".
But the DUP seems to be siding with the former foreign secretary, who has described the backstop as a “suicide vest” - despite being part of the the Cabinet that agreed to the principle back in December. Foster said the party’s confidence-and-supply arrangement with the Conservatives was “party to party” and not with May herself, confirming she would work with any Tory leader and endorsing Johnson’s “positive” vision for Brexit.
As the DUP, May and Johnson all raise the stakes on the Irish border, the chances of getting a deal with the EU that our Parliament could accept are shrinking. If there’s no deal - or there’s a deal that the DUP vetoes - the only sensible solution will be to ask the people what they want.
HAVE YOU SIGNED THE PETITION FOR A PEOPLE'S VOTE?
Quote of the day
“We cannot have either a customs border or a regulatory border down the Irish Sea. That would make us separate from the UK.
“We are not going to allow the UK to be broken up by Brussels or anybody else. It won't be a semi detached part. [EU chief negotiator Michel] Barnier cannot annexe the UK. We are not bluffing.”
Arlene Foster of the DUP, who prop up May’s government in Parliament, is unequivocal on Brexit
Video of the day
Brexit is buried at Conservative Party conference - by Our Future Our Choice.
Can May be honest?
The prime minister’s position over Brexit is so hopeless that her least bad option is to be honest with the people. That would also be the decent and patriotic thing to do - in keeping with her planned speech at the Conservative conference later today where she is scheduled to say voters “want to support a party that is decent, moderate and patriotic”.
An honest speech would make four key points:
- Chequers is dead. To get anything like it, she will have to make more concessions to the EU. It wasn’t a great plan anyway as it would damage our economy and turn us into rule-takers.
- We can’t get the Canada-style deal that Boris Johnson wants unless we accept border controls in the Irish Sea. What’s more, “Canada” would damage our economy even more than Chequers.
- Crashing out of the EU with no deal at all would be even worse for our economy than Canada.
- Fudging the whole issue with a “blindfold” Brexit would be dishonest. It would mean keeping the people in the dark until it was too late.
May is not the problem with Brexit - Brexit is the problem with May. That is why more and more people from all parties and none are demanding a People’s Vote.
Tweet of the day
Another senior Conservative has come out in support of a People's Vote - former universities and science minister David Willetts.
UK drug trials skipping a beat
Clinical trials for a new heart drug have been stopped in the UK because of Brexit, the BBC reports. Medical research firm Recardio was due to try the drug dutogliptin on patients in Clydebank, Leeds and Exeter. The California-based firm wants to establish that it can be used to help repair heart tissue after a heart attack. The company said Brexit “uncertainty” and the “completely unresolved” issues around the UK’s relationship with the European Medicines Agency (EMA) represented “a significant risk" to its business. Trials are going ahead in other EU countries instead. Nobody voted in 2016 for trials on new heart drugs to be stopped because of Brexit.
Video of the day 2
WATCH: Entrepreneur and CEO Geeta Sidhu Robb wants a Peoples Vote because she thinks Brexit is going to be a disaster for small business’ like hers.
Mini and Vauxhall in raise the alarm
More ominous Brexit warnings from the car industry. BMW said it would move production of the Mini out of the UK in the event of a hard Brexit. Vauxhall’s boss warned of “dramatic consequences” for the manufacturer in the UK if free trade between with the EU was hit by Brexit. BMW employs 7,500 across its plants in Oxfordshire, Swindon and Warwickshire. Vauxhall employs 3,000 people in the UK, mainly in Luton and Ellesmere Port. Nobody voted for car factories to be shut because of Brexit.
More Brexit news…
Daniel Finkelstein: That second referendum might just happen (Times £)
Peter Ricketts: Brexit calls for cool heads – not this offensive rhetoric (Guardian)
Jasmine Whitbread: The UK can’t afford to give EU workers a cold shoulder (Telegraph)
Today, Wednesday 3rd October
|-||Parliament in recess for conference season|
|-||Conservative Party Autumn Conference (Birmingham)|
|11:45||Theresa May's Conservative conference speech|
Tomorrow, Thursday 4th October
|-||Parliament in recess for conference season|