Boris Johnson’s battle to get his last-minute Brexit deal approved by MPs took a hit when the DUP ruled out backing the agreement.
Following days of intense negotiations, the prime minister announced he had struck a “great new deal” with Brussels as he headed to a summit of EU leaders on Thursday.
But it must still be passed by parliament and Johnson’s key ally, the DUP, was standing firm over its objections to his agreement and insisted it would not get their backing.
A statement from Arlene Foster’s party, which has been in close and regular talks with the PM, criticised his achievement for undermining the integrity of the union and being bad for the north of Ireland’s economy.
The deal also “drives a coach and horses” through the Good Friday peace agreement over the issue of consent.
“Following confirmation from the Prime Minister that he believes he has secured a ‘great new deal’ with the European Union the Democratic Unionist Party will be unable to support these proposals in Parliament,” the DUP said.
MPs are expected to hold a meaningful debate on the deal in the house of commons on Saturday, the first weekend sitting of parliament in 37 years.
If parliament does not back his deal by Saturday, Johnson faces an almighty clash over whether he will request a further Brexit delay from Brussels, as he is compelled to under the Benn Act.
Johnson was due to meet European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker after he arrives at the two-day summit in Brussels on Thursday afternoon.
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