In a breakthrough of sorts that the SUN calls "SUPER DUP-ER", DUP privately agree to support Theresa May’s ‘Plan B’ Brexit deal when she ‘toughens it up’ ahead of crunch Commons vote

The Sun can reveal that delicate deliberations are now ongoing between the Ulster unionist party’s leaders and the PM. No10 and Arlene Foster's DUP are close to agreeing an amendment that will see a time limit imposed on the Irish backstop.

In a crucial shift, it has emerged that the DUP are now willing to accept a backstop as long as it’s specifically time limited. In another twist last night, Tory grandees told The Sun they have tabled a new Brexit plan of their own in a bid to end the Conservatives’ civil war.

The group, lead by 1922 Committee chairman Sir Graham Brady, have issued a fresh call on the PM to get the backstop removed altogether. Mrs May has agreed to go back to Brussels to demand fresh concessions to the Withdrawal Agreement if that’s what MPs decide is needed to end the deadlock.

Senior DUP figures say they now fear pro-Remain Tory MPs will side with Labour to deliver a significantly softer Brexit if the PM’s deal is voted down on Tuesday. The party’s 10 MPs are also under spiralling pressure from grass roots members and their Stormont politicians to agree to a deal to hold off growing Republican calls for a reunification referendum under a no deal Brexit.

But a backstop time limit – even of 12 months - would not win over all Tory hardliners, including European Research Group chair Jacob Rees-Mogg who has demanded its total removal.

Sir Graham told The Sun his new plan in a different amendment tabled last night was a bid to create Tory unity after months of bitter feuding.

The amendment – also backed by No10 loyalists ex-First Minister Damian Green and Northern Ireland Committee chair Andrew Murrison – asks for the backstop to be replaced with “alternative arrangements to avoid a hard border”.

Sir Graham told The Sun: “It has been obvious for a long time that the most serious problem arising from the Withdrawal Agreement was a backstop arrangement that could trap Britain in the wrong relationship with the EU in perpetuity.

Revealing the significant shift towards the PM, a senior DUP source told The Sun: “If she fails on Tuesday, Parliament will take over and we lose any semblance of a decent Brexit. We have to help her now, so we’ll vote with the Government if they agree the right amendment. That’s looking like a short time limit to the backstop at the moment.”

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The DUP’s public support for Mrs May’s deal is seen as crucial, after dozens of rebel Tory MPs pledged to vote in solidarity with their unionist cause.

BIG IF

  • For starters there is no plan B. There is only Plan A.
  • Second, the Sun is a sensationalist tabloid. That does not make the story untrue, but I see no such reports in the Financial Times or the Telegraph.
  • Third, this sentence strikes me as patently false: "No10 and Arlene Foster's DUP are close to agreeing an amendment that will see a time limit imposed on the Irish backstop."

As I have stated before, parliament can pass an amendment that pigs can fly, but that will not make it so. And May knows that. So at least part of this story appears souped up.

For discussion of flying pigs, please see Brexit and the Three Pigs: A Modern Fairy Tale

Pigs aside, the general idea rings true. DUP would prefer May's deal to various alternatives.

But is that news or simply common sense?

It is equally true that remainers would prefer May's deal to WTO Brexit.

Those two ideas are what still give May's deal a chance despite everyone despising it.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock