Northern Ireland’s Democratic party announced on Thursday that it cannot support Boris Johnson’s Brexit plan in its current form.
Taking to Twitter, the DUP, which backs Johnson’s government, said in a brief statement that, “As things stand, we could not support what is being suggested on customs and consent issues, and there is a lack of clarity on VAT (value-added tax)”.
“We will continue to work with the government to try and get a sensible deal that works for Northern Ireland and protects the economic and constitutional integrity of the United Kingdom”, DUP added.
The statement was seen as a major setback for Johnson, who would most likely need the support of his DUP allies in parliament for any deal agreed in Brussels.
Johnson’s proposed alternative would keep Northern Ireland in parts of the single market but pull it out of the customs union with checks hypothetically taking place in the Irish Sea, an idea the DUP has previously rejected.
The PM is hoping to get a deal agreed during the European Council meeting taking place over the next two days.
Earlier this week, the EU’s Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said that a divorce deal with the United Kingdom is still possible this week but the British government needs to come forward with a legal text.
The stepped-up negotiations came after UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Irish counterpart Leo Varadkar held a meeting last week, both sides dubbed “promising”.
On Sunday, Johnson, however, told his cabinet that while he could see a “pathway” to a deal, there was “still a significant amount of work” needed to get there.
Earlier this month, Johnson had submitted new proposals to the EU and its leaders promised to examine them carefully.