Theresa May fails to win support of leading DUP and ERG figures

PUBLISHED: 13:49 12 March 2019 | UPDATED: 13:50 12 March 2019

DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds and leader Arlene Foster in Downing Street. Photograph: Dominic Lipinski/PA.

DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds and leader Arlene Foster in Downing Street. Photograph: Dominic Lipinski/PA.

PA Wire/PA Images

Theresa May's hopes of securing approval for her Brexit deal has suffered a blow as leading Tory Brexiteers in the European Research Group and Democratic Unionist Party said they could not vote for it.

The so-called “Star Chamber” of lawyers convened by the ERG found that Theresa May has not delivered the legally-binding changes the Commons has demanded.

Her Strasbourg agreements “do not provide any exit mechanism from the protocol which is under the UK’s control”, the group claimed, made up of legally-trained Tory Brexiteer MPs Sir Bill Cash, David Jones, Dominic Raab, Suella Braverman, Michael Tomlinson and Robert Courts, the DUP’s Nigel Dodds and QC Michael Howe.

Their judgment came after attorney general Geoffrey Cox told MPs that the changes “reduce the risk” that the UK could be trapped indefinitely in the backstop, but do not remove it altogether.

A new analysis by the People’s Vote campaign found that 96 MPs have demanded changes to the backstop that the prime minister has failed to deliver and should not be able to vote for the deal - with 43 requesting complete removal, 34 demanding a time limit, and 31 calling for a unilateral exit mechanism.

The boss of anti-Brexit campaign group Best for Britain, Eloise Todd, said: “Number 10 need to be sent on an expectation management course because they’ve royally flopped here.

“First the long-awaited silver bullet of Geoffrey Cox’s legal advice ended up shooting them in the foot, and now the faction Theresa May has been so desperate to woo has pulled the rug out from underneath her.

“MPs will tonight vote down this terrible deal once again. It is dead.

“The UK must now work to extend Article 50 and make provisions for the only credible route out of this Brexit mess – a public vote.”

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