Wilson: Why DUP cannot support May's Brexit double-cross

Sammy Wilson is the DUP’s Brexit Spokesman and is Member of Parliament for East Antrim

After the disastrous General Election of 2017 when the Prime Minister through an act of breath taking political incompetence, threw away the comfortable majority which she had in the House of Commons, the DUP agreed to enter into a confidence and supply arrangement with the Conservative Party to ensure stable government in the UK for the five year parliamentary term. 

In return for economic support to help the long-term strengthening of the NI economy we agreed to support the government in delivering on the referendum to leave the EU and see through its domestic legislative programme. We have honoured our side of the bargain. Fifty percent of the votes on Brexit legislation would have been lost without DUP support and twenty percent of the voices on its legislative programme depended upon our support.

In return we expected the Prime Minister to bring back a deal from Brussels which freed the UK from the EU Customs Union, Single Market and the dictats of the ECJ. We also expected her to ensure that the demands of the Irish Government and the EU negotiators to keep NI tied to the EU would be resisted. She publicly and privately promised to honour these requirements which were part of her election manifesto but as the deal which she presented to the Cabinet and Parliament clearly shows she has broken her promises to the electorate, her own MPs and the people of NI.

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Instead of a deal which frees the UK from the shackles of EU membership she has volunteered to handcuff this country to the EU and then has handed the key to the EU to allow Micheal Barnier and Co to decide if or when they will let us go free. In the case of NI the handcuffs have been applied and the key has been thrown away.

NI will forever be locked into an arrangement where a substantial part of our laws will be made in Brussels, regardless of how damaging they are to our economy we will have no choice as to whether they should be implemented nor will we be able to amend them. The extent of trade barriers between NI and our main market in GB will be dependent on what the EU deems necessary to meet its customs rules.

The Prime Minister has argued that the customs arrangement or the UK backstop as it is described in the agreement is only temporary and will be negotiated away in our Future Trading Arrangements with the EU. The EU has already made it clear that any FTA will not be an alternative to this legally binding customs union arrangement but will build upon it. Secondly the arrangement can only be terminated when the EU agrees that it is no longer necessary. Only a fool would believe that the EU will ever release the UK from an arrangement which gives such advantage too the EU. What incentive will there ever be to give the UK the freedom to makes its own regulations, negotiate its own trading deals when such freedom would enable it to compete more effectively with firms based in the over regulated EU.

In the case of NI, it is openly admitted that the controls will have to stay in place in order to avoid a ‘hard border’ between NI and the Republic of Ireland. No one has ever defined what a hard border would look like. Everyone has said they will not erect it. Current trading arrangements show that taxes can be collected on daily trade across the border at present and checks for regulatory compliance with third country trade are carried out without border checks being necessary. The problem of the Irish border is a contrived problem which was designed to force the UK to accept EU demands to stay in the customs union and the single market.

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The Prime Minister has allowed herself to be bullied into breaking her promises to the electorate, her own party and NI or else she has been a willing participant in the EU plan to undermine the Brexit referendum. Either way the deal she is now backing has double crossed those who trusted her and that is why the DUP will be joining MPs from all parties in voting against it when it comes to the House of Commons for a decision.