DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds launches brutal face-to-face attack on Boris Johnson as he accuses the PM of breaking his Brexit promises and of being ‘weak’ during talks with the EU
- DUP opposed to Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal saying it is bad for Northern Ireland
- Mr Johnson opted to agree the accord with the EU despite the DUP’s opposition
- Former allies now in bitter war of words as DUP accuse PM of broken promises
- DUP’s Nigel Dodds accused PM of Brexit ‘weakness’ in heated Commons clash
The Prime Minister opted to proceed with his divorce deal with the EU last week despite the Northern Irish unionists telling him they could not support it.
The DUP’s 10 MPs have said they will vote against the agreement, making the PM’s path to victory much more difficult.
And tensions between the DUP and Mr Johnson boiled over this morning as the party’s deputy leader, Nigel Dodds, launched a vicious face-to-face attack on the premier in the House of Commons.
Mr Johnson is today asking MPs to back his divorce accord to ‘get Brexit done’ by the October 31 deadline.
But Mr Dodds urged him to go back to the drawing board as the PM launched a last ditch bid to persuade MPs to give him their support at a potential crunch vote this afternoon.
Nigel Dodds, pictured in the House of Commons this morning, suggested Boris Johnson had shown ‘weakness’ during Brexit talks with the European Union
But Mr Johnson dismissed the concerns raised by Mr Dodds as the Tories and the DUP continued their very public falling out over the PM’s Brexit deal
Speaking in the Commons, Mr Dodds said: ‘Weariness in this House over Brexit should not be an excuse for weakness on Brexit or weakness on the Union.
‘This party has supported respecting the right of the people of the United Kingdom’s referendum decision to leave the European Union.
‘We have supported that. We continue to support that. But it must be Brexit for the whole of the United Kingdom, leaving the single market and the customs union if that is what the rest of the UK does along with the rest of the UK.
‘This deal puts Northern Ireland, yes, in the UK customs union, but applies de facto all the European customs union code. Yes it does, read the detail.
‘It also puts us in the VAT regime. It also puts us in the single market regime for goods and agri-food without any consent up front contrary to the agreement made in December 2017 which said that only regulatory difference could happen with the consent of the executive and the assembly.
‘It drives a coach and horses through the Belfast Agreement by altering the cross-community consent mechanism.
‘It was once said that no British Prime Minister could ever agree to such terms and indeed those who sought the leadership of the Tory Party said that at our conference.
‘Will he now abide by that and please reconsider the fact that we must leave as one nation together?
‘There may be special circumstances for Northern Ireland but that can only be with the consent of the people of Northern Ireland, unionists and nationalists together.
‘That is the basis on which the peace process, the political process, has advanced. He must respect that.’
The DUP is particularly concerned about the ‘democratic consent’ mechanism relating to Northern Ireland which forms part of the PM’s divorce deal.
It would give the Stormont Assembly a vote every four years on whether proposed post-Brexit border arrangements should remain in place.
That vote would be decided based on a simple majority. The DUP believe the vote should be based on needing a majority of both unionists and nationalists.
Mr Johnson’s comments prompted Mr Dodds, the deputy leader of the DUP, to raise his hands in exasperation
Mr Johnson dismissed Mr Dodds’ concerns as he defended the agreement he has struck with Brussels.
The Prime Minister’s words prompted the DUP deputy leader to raise his hands in exasperation.
‘In all frankness I do think it a pity that it is thought necessary for one side or the other in the debate in Northern Ireland to have a veto on those arrangements,’ Mr Johnson said.
‘Because after all, I must be very frank about this, because after all the people of this country have taken a great decision embracing the entire four nations of this country by a simple majority vote that went 52-48, which we’re honouring now.
‘I think that principle should be applied elsewhere and I see no reason why it should not be applied in Northern Ireland as well, and it is in full compatibility with the Good Friday Agreement.’