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10 October 2018, 06:08 | Glen Norman
40 UK lawmakers willing to vote down Brexit deal
Following a meeting in Brussels with the EU's chief Brexit negotiator, DUP leader Arlene Foster dismissed suggestions that she was ready to soften her position, and said her party would not accept any new regulatory checks on goods crossing the Irish Sea.
The backbenchers are mulling the decision to rebel against their own party should the Prime Minister clinch a deal with Brussels, rather than see the country suffer the economic impact of withdrawing without an agreement.
According to one of the academics who conducted "The Future of England Study", unionists' preference for Brexit over the territorial integrity of the United Kingdom "raises questions about the type of union we're in, and indeed what unionism means".
One of the key things they have not yet agreed is how to prevent there being new border checks between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, which is a member of the EU.
It also came shortly after Foster met European Union chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier, who said he is "working hard to explain and de-dramatise the backstop".
She has not resisted the unreasonable calls for Northern Ireland to be treated differently in terms of regulation, in terms of participation and future trade agreements.
"My estimate is that there are at least 40 colleagues who are not going to accept a "half in, half out" Chequers deal or indeed a backstop that leaves us in the internal market and the customs union".
If 40 of her lawmakers voted against a possible deal, the fate of the government and exit process would depend on the opposition Labour Party, which has indicated it will vote against nearly any deal May might secure.
But the DUP fears that a two-part Brexit deal is emerging that would breach its "nuclear" red line.
Former Brexit minister Steve Baker said on Tuesday that as many as 40 hardcore Tory Brexiteers will defy the party whip should they be forced to vote in favour of the Chequers plan.
Foster stressed that she wants to reach a Brexit deal and she is staying in Brussels for the next two days in order to try and find a solution that would be acceptable to her.
The Prime Minister's spokesman told a Westminster media briefing: "We have always said that we are working hard for a deal this autumn and that continues at pace".
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The prime minister's spokesperson said government officials are in "intensive" talks with European Union negotiators in order to resolve the Irish border issue, which is the last major outstanding issue in the draft Withdrawal Agreement.
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