DUP's Arlene Foster declares party is 'working hard' to seek deal with Theresa May

DUP chief Arlene Foster signalled the Ulster Unionists were edging closer to backing the PM’s deal.

Speaking in Washington DC, she said the party was “working very hard” with the Government and: “We want to make sure we get there.”

It came amid growing talk of a split between the ten MPs in DUP ranks as local businesses in Northern Ireland demand they back an agreement.

One source said: “The donors have turned off the taps. They want a deal.”

DUP insiders met with No.10 for fresh talks yesterday around the backstop.

Sources claim they also want a legal guarantee the Government will never escape EU customs ties by putting a virtual border down the Irish Sea.

One said the DUP was “almost there” in backing the PM earlier this week until Attorney General Geoffrey Cox’s legal advice emerged.

DUP Westminster leader Nigel Dodds and Sammy Wilson, the party’s Brexit spokesman, are thought to be the two most outspoken critics of the agreement.

Tory arch Brexiteers said the DUP’s support was key in winning them over to the PM’s deal.

At the moment, there’s a separation – a canyon – between what their thinking is and what the business community is thinking

Conor Burns MP said: “Northern Ireland are the ones who are most impacted by the backstop so if we can get to the point that the DUP have enough comfort to go into the lobby.

“I think that will inform the decision-making process for a lot of people.”

Sources claim business figures in Northern Ireland were alarmed by the Government’s No Deal tariff schedule – published yesterday.

Bill Wolsey, a Belfast investor who employs workers in hotels, pubs and restaurants, told The Financial Times business was united in demanding the DUP accept the PM’s treaty.

He said: “The DUP always put themselves forward as the party of business.

"At the moment, there’s a separation – a canyon – between what their thinking is and what the business community is thinking.”

Geoffrey Cox is trying to win over Tory MPs and the DUP to the PM’s deal by saying Britain can leave the Irish backstop under the Vienna
Convention.

Sources claimed new advice circulated to leading arch Brexiteers the U.K. can leave the mechanism if it’s having a "socially destabilising effect on Northern Ireland".

He claims this would be considered a "fundamental change" of circumstances under the terms of the treaty.

But the Daily Telegraph said the so-called Star Chamber of Eurosceptic Tory lawyers claims it doesn’t go far enough.

In a fresh blow to the PM, the Star Chamber, which includes the DUP's deputy leader Nigel Dodds, produced a five page analysis which claims it is "erroneous" and "badly misconceived".



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