DUP warns Theresa May to keep her side of the bargain on Brexit or risk deal that keeps her in power

DUP warns Theresa May to \keep her side of the bargain\ on Brexit or risk deal that keeps her in power
Brexit: DUP tells Theresa May to keep her side of the bargain
Hunt, the foreign secretary and one of the most ambitious of Mays cabinet ministers, chastised his Conservative colleagues for encouraging letters of no confidence in the prime minister.

A predicted coup against May failed to materialise on Monday as it became apparent that hardline Eurosceptics had not yet managed to persuade enough Tory MPs to write to Sir Graham Brady. May would face a confidence vote among the parliamentary party if 48 letters were sent to Brady, who chairs the 1922 Committee of Tory backbenchers.

None of the opposition amendments passed and the DUP could still opt to support the budget at later stages of the legislative process. But, without the DUPs support, May would find passing any contentious legislation in the coming weeks impossible, and the gesture underlined the depth of the partys frustrations about the outcome of the Brexit negotiations.

Read more A fresh challenge for May came on Monday night as the Democratic Unionist partys 10 MPs abstained and, in some cases, voted with Labour in a series of votes over the finance bill. Budget measures are covered by the confidence and supply arrangement between the Conservatives and the DUP which the prime minister needs to secure a majority.

The agreement the two parties subsequently signed, and which led to more than £1bn of extra resources being directed to Northern Ireland, said the DUP would support the government on all motions of confidence; and on the Queens speech; the budget; finance bills; money bills, supply and appropriation legislation and estimates.

The move appeared to be a DUP warning to May that they are not willing to support her administration if she pushes ahead with her Brexit deal, which they have vehemently rejected.

After it emerged that the DUP had abandoned the Conservatives on a series of issues, including a Labour motion on child poverty, Jon Trickett, the shadow minister for the Cabinet Office, said: We no longer have a functioning government. With Brexit only a few months away, something has got to give.

Government has broken Brexit promise to DUP, says senior MP

Earlier, Hunt, on a visit to Tehran, said May had perhaps got the most difficult job of any prime minister or president in the western world at the moment.

Jenricks concession, made during the debate, came after a cross-party amendment tabled by Labours Chuka Umunna and the Conservative Anna Soubry, secured the backing of 11 Conservative MPs – more than enough to wipe out Mays majority, even without DUP backing.

It is incredibly challenging, he said. Somehow she has to find a way of navigating the shoals of Brexit in a way that allows us to have national closure on the issue and move on and deal with all the other issues we face.

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Labour would have to sideline the anti-EU mindset of its own leader. Jeremy Corbyn, left, and John McDonnell. Photograph: Will Oliver/EPA As things stand, Labours position is apparently built on two fairly incredible beliefs: that it could somehow negotiate a much better Brexit, and that it wants a general election, which parliament is very unlikely to grant. Even if a contest did happen, unless the Tories were mad enough to plunge us into the chaos of no-deal, what exactly would it be about? With Brexit both falling apart and defining the entirety of day-to-day politics, Labours crafty fudging of the issue in 2017 would be impossible. Would its central offer be the difference between the current plan, to stay in a customs union for an unspecified period, or Labours guarantee to do so permanently? Might voters basically be asked to choose between the negotiating nous of Tories and the supposedly superior talents of Corbyn, Keir Starmer and Emily Thornberry? Contrary to Labours hype, there is no chance of any deal delivering the exact same benefits as the status quo, nor of the partys fabled jobs-first Brexit: with his usual bloodless candour, Donald Tusk this week reminded us that our passage out of the EU is a lose-lose situation and that our negotiations are only about damage control. As if anyone needed reminding, this would apply to a Labour government as well.

Hunt said May was by far the best-placed person to steer the relationship with the EU to ensure the UK leaves on friendly terms. Seeking to remove her risks the most appalling chaos that could be immensely damaging to our national reputation, but also destabilising and potentially stopping us getting through to the other side of Brexit, he said. That is why when people think about this, people will realise that backing her is the right thing to do.

The country currently has three options, and parliament seems unlikely to be able to sensibly choose between them: the current withdrawal deal or something very like it, the unimaginable chaos of no-deal, or no Brexit. Self-evidently, leaving the EU without an agreement would be by far the most nightmarish, which is one of the reasons why Labours determination to vote down Mays deal is not without hazards. But in the midst of such imperfect options, and with heavy reservations, I think I know what we need to avoid national disaster: a Labour party ready to move beyond Corbyns hollow claim on Sunday that another referendum is merely an option for the future, and embrace what is now known as a peoples vote, with a recommendation that Britain should stay in the EU.

Downing Street has said significant progress is still needed in the Brexit negotiations to flesh out the final political declaration on the future relationship, including addressing some language on customs that alarmed Brexiters.

How May could get her deal through parliament

Hunt said he had begun talks with European foreign ministers to see if it was possible to clarify both sides intentions and put minds at rest with the future relationship document. I do not think you can change any issues of substance because the withdrawal agreement is a legally binding document and the future relationship is a political declaration, he said. What you might be able to do is clarify what everyones intentions are in the withdrawal agreement where there is inevitably quite a lot of suspicion on both sides.

Read more Now, as much as similar thoughts still arrive on a daily basis, I wonder. Most of the Conservative politicians who championed leaving the EU and were then given the job of carrying it out have deserted their posts. The story of how key leave campaigners cheated their way to success may only just have started to unfold. And every month brings stories, too often overlooked, of how Brexit will blight the places that supported it: this week it was news about a doomed ball-bearing factory in Plymouth, in business for 50 years and now owned by the German company Schaeffler, but set to close with the loss of more than 350 jobs – partly, says the company, because of the uncertainties surrounding Brexit.

Mays spokesman said she would play a negotiating role in the final stages before Sundays summit in Brussels, although there is no day set this week for her anticipated meeting with the European commission president, Jean-Claude Juncker.

The prime minister said over the weekend that she intended to go to Brussels this week, before the emergency summit on Sunday. No 10 denied that the threat of a possible no-confidence vote was the reason no date had been finalised.

Still eight letters short: Leading Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg  is pictured in Westminster today amid claims his coup attempt is foundering. Former chief whip Andrew Mitchell today warned  the rebels against hunting Mrs May down like Margaret Thatcher.

Video: Mary Lou McDonald tells Arlene Foster to wake up and smell the coffee on Brexit

Democratic Unionists refuse to back May in finance bill vote

Responding to the DUP MPs decision not to back the government in the budget votes, Jon Trickett MP, the shadow minister for the Cabinet Office, said: We no longer have a functioning government. With Brexit only a few months away, something has got to give.

Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith (pictured today with Lord Trimble Tory peer Lord Lilley and Conservative MP Owen Paterson)  led a Brexiteer delegation to No10 where he pleaded with the PM to tear up her divorce deal and go back to the negotiating table

The number of letters publicly submitted to Brady declaring no confidence in May reached 26 on Monday, well short of the tally needed, though Eurosceptic MPs insisted more had been submitted privately.

The Tory Brexit delegation (meeting with David Trimble, Ian Duncan Smith and Owen Patterson leaving Downing Street in London) met he PM came amid growing signs the Tory Brexit coup is fizzling out amid bitter recriminations among Eurosecptic MPs

NI paper review: Brexit and a historic Irish rugby win

Sources played down any possibility of a united intervention from the gang of five Eurosceptic cabinet ministers, including Michael Gove and Andrea Leadsom, who had hopes of changing aspects of the final agreement.

Critics of the prime minister did little to hide their frustration that a confidence vote had not yet been triggered. Steve Baker, the former Brexit minister and member of the European Research Group (ERG), who has been coordinating the letters campaign, said: Who knows now? Will MPs do what they said?

Theresa May appears to have seen off attempts by hardline Brexiteers to bully her into dropping her decision to put her deal before MPs

One of the Tory rebels, Simon Clarke, said it was incumbent on those colleagues who had promised to act to do so. I think they now need to search their consciences and follow up on what they pledged to do, he said. If we continue with this plan we are simply not going to have a government. It is quite clear to me that the captain is driving the ship at the rocks.

First, Tory MPs need to hold a vote of confidence in Theresa May and she needs to win it. After that there cannot be another such vote for a year. Eurosceptic Tory rebels will then have nothing to gain by saying that a new leader could drive a harder bargain, because there will be no new leader.

Ben Bradley, another MP who sent a letter, said colleagues who had concerns about the deal should know that May had no intention of changing course. We have two options: carry on as we are, with our heads buried in the sand, reach stalemate, and then general election territory with Corbyn in the ascendency, or do something about it now and change the deal, he said. The PM is adamant, she will not change it, so now has to be the time for those colleagues to act.

They will have no way to oppose the prime minister and her deal without opposing the Conservative Party and the government itself. This will shrink the Eurosceptic rebellion.

At the CBI conference on Monday, May gave a coded warning to her mutinous party, saying Brexit was not an exercise in political theory.

Here is a plan to get the governments Brexit deal through parliament. The prime minister needs to win two fights and lose one.

We have in view a deal that will work for the UK. And let no one be in any doubt: I am determined to deliver it, she said. We are not talking about political theory but the reality of peoples lives and livelihoods. Jobs depend on us getting this right.

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Brexit backstop gives NI too many advantages, says PM

May said those rebels threatening to force a no-deal Brexit were costing UK businesses and making them less competitive. While other countries are forging a competitive future, Westminster seems to be living in its own narrow world, in which extreme positions are being allowed to dominate, she said.

Downing Street hopes progress on the political declaration could persuade some wavering Brexiters. It is currently seven pages long in draft form, but officials said they expected the final version to be significantly longer. This is clearly a very intense part of the negotiations, Mays spokesman said.

Brexit deal: The importance of being unionist?

One phrase that has particularly alarmed Brexiters in the political declaration says both sides have committed to combining deep regulatory and customs cooperations, building on the single customs territory provided for in the withdrawal agreement.

Critics suggested it was a step towards a permanent customs union. A No 10 source said it was one of several areas, as well as security, where there was still work to be done.

The ERG and the Brexiter group Global Britain will convene a meeting on Tuesday morning as Mays cabinet meets, hosted by the ERG chair, Jacob Rees-Mogg, the former Brexit secretary David Davis and Peter Lilley, a cabinet minister under Margaret Thatcher. The groups will publish a paper that they say will challenge the myths on the threats to UK trade of leaving the customs union on WTO terms.

Despite confident predictions from Tory rebels that a no confidence vote would be held as soon as Tuesday, the extra letters from Conservative MPs needed to trigger a ballot failed to materialise on Monday.

Bid to oust Theresa May stalls amid rebel squabbling

The confidence vote now appears to be on hold until after Parliament votes next month on Mrs Mays Brexit deal, which will itself be seen as a referendum on her leadership.

Mrs May also faced down senior Brexiteers Iain Duncan Smith and Owen Paterson in Downing Street hours after the so-called gang of five Brexiteer Cabinet ministers – who had threatened to make…