Kingdom (Xinhua) -- The leader of the
Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) told its
annual conference in Belfast Saturday that the party remained
opposed to British Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal.
Arlene Foster was speaking as May headed to Brussels ahead of
the expected signing of an agreement Sunday between Britain and
the European Union (EU) on a future relationship after Brexit.
May’s minority Conservative government at Westminster relies
on the support of the 10 DUP MPs to give it a majority in the
House of Commons. The loss of those vital 10 votes will cause a
major headache for May when the deal is debated by MPs next
Addressing the conference, Foster said the DUP could not
support a Brexit deal that would open the possibility of
divergence in either customs or regulatory measures between the
British mainland and Northern Ireland.
Foster told the conference the Brexit deal was not in the
national interest and would cause long-term economic damage to
As part of the deal, a so-called backstop arrangement has
been included that could see an option of Northern Ireland
keeping some EU customs regulations for a short time after the
end of an implementation period due to end in December 2020.
It would mean different rules applying in mainland Britain
and Northern Ireland, though May insists it will not be used.
The backstop would only be needed if a solution has not been
agreed to avoid a hard border between Northern Ireland and the
Ahead of the conference, Foster warned May she risks losing
the support of the DUP support if she presses ahead with her
current Brexit deal.
In a media interview in Belfast, Foster called on the Prime
Minister to ditch the UK-EU Withdrawal Agreement or face the end
of the Westminster pact between the DUP and the Conservatives.
Foster told Radio Ulster’s Inside Politics if the deal is not
going to deliver on Brexit, the DUP would have to look at the
confidence and supply agreement between the two parties.
In a speech at the DUP conference Saturday, former Foreign
Secretary Boris Johnson told delegates Britain is on the verge
of making a historic mistake if it does not scrap the backstop.
It could risk tearing apart the fabric of the United Kingdom,
He said Northern Ireland faced being reduced to the status of
a semi-colony of the EU if the Brexit deal is ratified by the
He called DUP MPs at Westminster to work with him and the
many Conservative backbenchers who have pledged to vote down
May’s deal next month.
In what the Daily Telegraph described as a rousing speech to
the DUP conference, Johnson said the draft Brexit withdrawal
agreement conjured up images of famous ocean liner Titanic
heading off to sea, adding: "now is the time to point out the
The ill-fated Titanic was built in Belfast and sank on its
maiden voyage across the Atlantic in 1912.
Spain agrees to support
Brexit deal after reaching agreement over Gibraltar
MADRID Spain (Xinhua) --
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said on
Saturday that his government had reached an agreement over the
future of Gibraltar.
This means Sunday’s meeting in Brussels in which European
Union (EU) leaders are expected to give their support to the
Brexit agreement that would see the UK leave the EU on March 29,
2019, will go ahead as planned.
Spain had threatened to veto the Brexit agreement over what
it considered to be a lack of assurances of its future
relationship with Gibraltar, the British Overseas Territory
situated on the southwest tip of the Spanish mainland.
However, following a reported phone conversation with
European Council President Donald Tusk, Sanchez confirmed he
would both attend the meeting and support the Brexit deal.
"We have reached an agreement and we will vote in favor of
the Brexit," said Sanchez in a declaration made from his
official residence at the Palacio de la Moncloa.
"Spain has achieved a historic agreement which would
definitively resolve the future of Gibraltar with the United
Kingdom in the coming years," said the prime minister.
"Once the UK retires (from the EU), Gibraltar’s relationship
with the EU will be though Spain," said Sanchez, adding that
this decision guaranteed the "national interest, joint
prosperity and Spain’s key role in the future relationship."
Gibraltar was ceded to the UK in the 1713 Treaty of Utrecht
which ended the War of Spanish Succession and has belonged to
the UK ever since, much to Spain’s frustration and restoring the
‘Rock’ to Spanish sovereignty is a matter of national pride to
Nevertheless, 98 percent of the population of Gibraltar voted
in 2002 against shared sovereignty between the UK and Spain,
while 96 of Gibraltarians voted against the Brexit in the June
2016 referendum in which the UK voted to leave the EU by a
narrow margin of 51.89 percent to 48.11 percent.
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