May faces rising Scottish and DUP pressure on Brexit
Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson has added to UK Prime Minister Theresa May’s worries by implying that she will resign if any Brexit agreement gives Northern Ireland special trading terms with the European Union.
The lesbian, pro-EU member of the Scottish parliament, who appears to be a considerable electoral asset to the Tories, said she “could not support” an agreement giving the six Northern Irish counties special status.
In a joint letter with David Mundell, the Scottish Conservative secretary, she wrote: “Having fought just four years ago to keep our country together, the integrity of our United Kingdom remains the single most important issue for us in these negotiations.”
It would appear both Davidson and Mundell are prepared to resign if May refuses to address their concerns.
Under May’s plan, which is opposed by the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) – that is propping up May’s minority government – Northern Ireland would in effect, stay in the single market as part of the “backstop” to avoid a hard border in Ireland.
The Scottish National Party is already asking why Scotland cannot be given a similar arrangement
Their letter added: “Any deal that delivers a differentiated settlement for Northern Ireland beyond the differences that already exist on all Ireland basis (eg agriculture), or can be brought under the provisions of the Belfast Agreement, would undermine the integrity of our UK internal market and this United Kingdom.”
Talks in Brussels
Brexit talks have hit a wall over the over the British border in Ireland, increasing the likelihood of a no deal, according to UK sources.
Brexit minister Dominic Raab, in Brussels for talks, is reportedly hit difficulties over the so-called back-stop arrangement insisted on by the EU to prevent a hard border.
According to London sources, there was an agreement that the EU’s back-stop, which would keep Northern Ireland in the customs union and single market ahead of a reformed trade agreement, should apply to the whole of the UK.
But now the European Commission is saying this solution has an extra insurance policy of a Northern Ireland-only “back-stop to the back-stop”, which could place a customs border in the Irish Sea. May and the DUP have rejected this.
Sammy Wilson, the DUP’s Brexit spokesman, said no deal was now almost inevitable.
The Belfast Newsletter quoted him saying: “Given the way in which the EU has behaved and the corner they’ve put Theresa May into, there’s no deal which I can see at present which will command a majority in the House of Commons. So it is probably inevitable that we will end up with a no-deal scenario.”
Scottish protest against Brexit. Picture credit: Eurasia Times