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N. Ireland’s DUP signal they’ll reject customs union compromise, in Brexit blow for UK opposition parties

N. Ireland’s DUP signal they’ll reject customs union compromise, in Brexit blow for UK opposition parties
The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), the UK government’s Northern Irish key allies, have indicated that they will not back a customs union amendment to the Brexit Bill, in a set-back for opposition parties.

In what is a crucial week in the Brexit process, with UK PM Boris Johnson’s Tory government looking to get their Withdrawal Agreement Bill (WAB) passed by lawmakers, the opposition parties appear to have hit a stumbling block as they seek to add amendments.

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Labour and other parties opposed to Johnson’s deal agreed with Brussels last week are expected to table a ‘customs union’ amendment as they look to secure a softer Brexit, but DUP MP Jim Shannon told Sky News on Monday that his party are against the proposition.

We are clear where we stand on the customs union. [It] is something we cannot support and will not support.

The DUP have stated that they cannot support Johnson’s deal as it stands with a customs border down the Irish Sea a major issue for them, and also have concerns over “consent issues and...a lack of clarity on VAT.”

In this context, it perhaps comes as no surprise that a large number of people on social media are scratching their heads as to why the party could not back a customs union, a proposition that would address many, if not all, of these concerns.

One person, seemingly frustrated at the DUP’s intransigence tweeted: “No to the NI arrangements, no to CU, no to a confirmatory referendum but we want to leave on the 31st. Eh?” While another person simply said: “More things the DUP is AGAINST.”

The UK government will publish the WAB on Monday evening and are expected to bring it to the House of Commons on Tuesday for MPs to vote on, with and without a series of amendments.

Ahead of that vote, Speaker of the House, John Bercow, will reveal whether he will accept a Meaningful Vote (MV) on the Brexit deal. It’s been widely reported that he’ll reject the UK government's request and deem that it would amount to debating the same matter twice.

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