Image copyright AFP Image caption The DUP’s Sammy Wilson is worried the UK will remain closely aligned to EU rules in perpetuity
There is “no way” the Democratic Unionist Party will back Theresa May’s Brexit deal, a leading figure has said.
Sammy Wilson told the BBC he was “more alarmed” than ever about what the deal would mean for Northern Ireland.
The DUP, which props up Theresa May’s government, has held talks with the PM in recent days as she tries to persuade MPs to back the deal later this month.
The PM is seeking further legal assurances from the EU but it has said negotiations will not be re-opened.
The UK is due to leave the EU on 29 March 2019.
MPs will decide whether to accept or reject the withdrawal terms negotiated by Mrs May, as well as the framework of future relations, in a vote expected on 15 January.
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The vote was due to be held in December but Mrs May postponed it after it became clear she would be heavily defeated.
In the three weeks since then, she has been appealing to EU leaders to do more to allay MPs’ concerns over parts of the agreement, particularly the proposed Irish backstop.
This arrangement would see the UK tied to EU rules if the two sides’ future relationship is not settled by the end of 2020, when the proposed transition period will end, or if another way is not found of preventing physical checks on the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
Image copyright Reuters Image caption The prime minister has said the UK can “turn a corner” if the Brexit deal is approved
Mrs May, who had a “friendly phone call” with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker on Friday, insists it is a contingency plan that all sides agree should not be needed.
But the DUP are adamantly opposed, saying it will create new barriers between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK and could end up as the default template for future relations.
Mr Wilson, the DUP’s Brexit spokesman, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that little had changed since mid-December and his party believed the backstop was a “con trick” that was being imposed on the UK.
Asked if there was any way the party could support the PM’s deal, he replied “no there is not”.
“It is not just because of the regulations which Northern Ireland would be subject to with the backstop, but also the fact we would have to treat the rest of the UK as a third country and we would not participate in any trade deals which the UK may enter into the future”.