The DUP are prepared to end their confidence and supply deal with the Conservatives and vote against the budget, which is an effective vote of no confidence if their red lines on Brexit are breached. If the government fails to pass a budget it must resign or dissolve parliament and call a general election.
The Budget will be on the 29 October shortly after the crunch EU summit at which Mrs May is hoping to clinch the basis of a Brexit deal.
A DUP source told Sky News:
“It is unacceptable that we would be treated differently to the rest of the UK. We will not be bounced into anything. If Theresa May doesn’t take our concerns on board, she may not be the leader to take us through Brexit.”
Downing Street in a statement said the only votes Mrs May can count on are ‘conservative ones’
The DUP have already threatened publicly to vote down May’s Brexit proposal if it divided Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK. The PM planned to offer a regulatory border in the Irish Sea as a compromise with the EU, after it rejected her original Chequers proposal. This was scuppered by the DUP.
The threat will put pressure on the cabinet to keep the whole of the UK in a customs union temporarily post Brexit if a deal cannot be reached but many Hard Brexiteers are unhappy with this proposal.
The former Foreign Secretary tweeted stating his displeasure:
This is an important moment. Clearly No10 are negotiating a “backstop” that makes the UK a permanent EU colony. We cannot escape EU laws & ECJ until they allow us to – which they may never do. That’s not what the biggest majority in our history voted for #NoColonyStatus 1/4
— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) October 10, 2018
Where Labour fit into this is tricky as while they might vote for this as a single proposal they have stated they will not back Mrs May’s Brexit deal.
Irish officials have been very keen on the PM’s plan but Michel Barnier has initially rejected the proposal despite saying throughout negotiations that the EU was “open to a customs union” post-Brexit.
An amendment to have a customs union with the EU in an event of a no deal was previously voted down by parliament but with May’s backing, such policy, on its own, would most likely pass, as Labour support a customs union with the EU, post-Brexit and the bill was only narrowly defeated when the PM opposed it. An amendment on the trade bill when it comes back to the Lords is the most likely way to deliver this proposal.
May’s new proposal would see the UK stay in a customs union temporarily until a trade deal was reached. The EU previously wanted to keep Northern Ireland in the customs union should no arrangement be made about the Irish Border something May would not accept.
This would be a temporary extension of the customs union that could last well into the next decade but does stop the UK being carved up by Britain’s exit from the European Union.
The DUP’s threat to bring down the government will not be taken lightly, the main factor uniting the Tory party remains Jeremy Corbyn. The government desperately fear a general election that the withdrawal of DUP support could cause.