Theresa May has announced that the Conservative Government is ‘working to get further EU assurances’ on the state of Northern Ireland in the event of a Brexit deal as debates on the new deal are due to begin later this week.
Speaking from a conference in Liverpool, May stated that after delaying the Brexit vote last month, the December meeting of the European Council allowed for further assurances on the Brexit Deal, and there was “some further movement from the EU” in developing a deal.
Theresa May has also assured the public that she has been speaking to European leaders, and that in the coming days the Conservative government “will be setting out measures which will be specific to Northern Ireland.”
Brexit Secretary Steven Barclay has said ministers “will be clear on Wednesday” what developments in the deal have been made with the EU, which is the date when the House of Commons debate on the new deal will begin to be discussed.
This comes after over 200 MPs have signed an open letter to Theresa May, stating that a no-deal Brexit should be ruled out, and a large-scale exercise at Dover port was carried out to test ways to effectively manage heavy traffic congestion at UK ports following Brexit in both a deal and no-deal scenario.
The Prime Minister’s Brexit Deal has already been agreed by EU leaders after several revisions, but still needs to pass a vote in parliament before it can be implemented.
However, the DUP, Northern Ireland’s most popular political party and Conservative Party ally, has stated that it will not back the deal despite its revisions, making a Conservative majority for the Brexit deal difficult.
Despite the seemingly low likelihood of May winning the Brexit vote later this week, ministers still appear hopeful that the vote will be successful, with Kwasi Kwarteng, a Pro-Brexit Conservative minister, stating that “the plan is to win the vote” on BBC Radio 4.
Analysis by Editor – Alejandro Javierre.
without the support of the DUP, the Conservative Party will not be able to gain a majority needed to pass the new deal on their own, making the possibility of May’s deal being successful later this week slim at best. It also appears likely that the Labour Party will attempt to hinder the vote as much as possible, and it is therefore unlikely that many Labour ministers if any will be in favour of the new deal. May will need to gain the support of the DUP before the vote in order to have a chance of gaining a majority, making the debate over Northern Ireland arguably the most important of the entire deal. The deal may have survived Brussels, but the biggest battle for May’s Brexit deal is yet to begin.