The Observer: DUP leader sees no-deal Brexit as 'likeliest outcome

Theresa May

Theresa May's ministers are threatening to walk out of her government over her reported plans to keep Britain potentially tied to a customs union with the EU permanently after Brexit.

With days to go before a crucial European Union leaders summit, Ms Foster says her party would have teams in London, Brussels and Belfast arguing their case.

According to a private email exchange between senior United Kingdom officials, seen by the Observer, Foster had expressed deep disappointment about her meeting with Barnier, and outlined her wider thinking, during a dinner with the leader of the Conservative MEPs, Ashley Fox.

"She described Barnier as being hard and hostile in her meeting today ..." the leaked email from an adviser involved in the Brexit talks says.

Stressing that her party - which has threatened to cause a political crisis by voting down Philip Hammond's Budget if Mrs May gives way to Brussels - was serious, she said: "The DUP's actions this week are not as some have suggested about "flexing muscle".

With continued speculation that Leave-supporting Cabinet ministers could resign if Mrs May presses ahead with the plan, David Davis said: "This is one of the most fundamental decisions that government has taken in modern times".

But the Guardian and Daily Telegraph reported that the option of a potential extension was being considered by negotiators in Brussels to allow extra time to drawn up a deal on the future UK-EU relationship - and avoid the need to use a controversial "backstop" arrangement to prevent a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland.

The second part of the plan would see Northern Ireland stay in both the customs union and the EU single market.

But the DUP, whose support May needs to pass legislation in the British parliament, vehemently opposes any proposals that treat the province differently from the rest of the UK.

Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey, who wasn't at the meeting, has repeatedly refused to endorse the prime minister's Chequers blueprint for Brexit.

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"The Northern Ireland backstop is "the" key issue in deciding whether we get an agreement at the European Council later this week", he added.

Tory Eurosceptics reacted with fury, saying the move would add up to £17 billion ($31 b) to the Brexit bill and could cost the Conservatives the next election because the benefits of leaving the European Union would not have been felt by 2022.

The EU says a backstop must be "all-weather" and not have a specific cut-off date.

Mrs Foster's statement comes as the party faces criticism from some Conservatives over its tough stance.

"This is no game".

'Anyone engaging in this in a light-hearted way foolishly fails to grasp the gravity of the decisions we will make in the coming weeks'.

Negotiators were also sparring over whether that would cover Northern Ireland or mainland Britain as well.

She added that the plan for checks on goods was "a one-way turnstile, which could restrict trade from Great Britain to Northern Ireland" and said it was "the worst of one world".

"The only way to put things back on the right track is to ditch the backstop.", Johnson wrote.

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