PM 'must listen to other NI voices, not just DUP'

Theresa May depends on the votes of the 10 MPs from Arlene Foster’s Democratic Unionist Party

The Northern Irish party, which May relies upon for her Commons majority, had reacted angrily to suggestions in a letter from the prime minister, which had been leaked to the Times, that Northern Ireland could have a different regulatory regime to the rest of the United Kingdom if the Irish backstop comes into force.

The row comes as Brexit is expected to dominate the agenda of the British Irish Council, which will be attended by the taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, David Lidington, who is in effect May's deputy, and the Northern Ireland secretary, Karen Bradley.

A Brexit deal on the Northern Irish border could be signed within the "next couple of weeks", the Irish prime minister has said.

'If a deal emerges shaped on the contents of the PM's letter, DUP MPs & our allies will not support it, ' Wilson later tweeted.

But DUP leaders said on Friday that May's wording meant the fix would still be included in the withdrawal agreement that London and Brussels have been arguing about for many months.

Brexit spokesman Sammy Wilson said on Friday that regulations were settled in Europe and imposed on Northern Ireland in a move that "breaks the Union", Reuters reported.

DUP leader Arlene Foster said May's letter "raises alarm bells for those who value the integrity of our precious Union".

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He said the two sides were discussing how to avoid a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland.

The letter from the Prime Minister, leaked to the press, shows that the government is prepared to allow the European Union to carry out regulatory inspections of goods coming into Northern Ireland under the controversial plan to "reverse". "I think it's morelikely than not that well be able to include an agreement in the next few weeks before the end of the year".

"People will need to ask themselves what is it that is going to be in the best interests of those who sent them to Westminster to represent them, to ensure that we maintain living standards and investment and prosperity and employment in our country".

"The only thing I would say is that it is very important that we listen to the voice of Northern Ireland in all of this".

May's plan would see the whole United Kingdom effectively agree to remain in the customs union to help avoid a hard border with Ireland as a backstop if no other arrangement can be found.

But the EU has reportedly dismissed this plan, dubbed the "Cox compromise", insisting any arbitration must come from the European Court of Justice.

The DUP has reacted angrily to a letter from Theresa May to DUP leader Arlene Foster and accused May of breaking promises with regards to an Irish Sea border.

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