DUP 'will vote against government budget if Brexit red lines breached'

Downing Street plays down idea of Brexit agreement being reached next week

Speaking after meeting with the EU's chief negotiator Michel Barnier, she illustrated what the DUP were opposing by saying an attempt to avoid a hard border with the Irish Republic could mean more regulatory checks on goods travelling between GB and NI.

There have been faint signs of progress amid reports that the two sides are now working on a single text of a divorce agreement - rather than making counter-proposals.

Just minutes before the news broke that the DUP is considering voting down the budget, a Downing Street source was asked if Mrs May felt she could rely on DUP votes in parliament.

The small Northern Irish party which props up May's government again drew what it described as the "only one red line" in its talks in Brussels on Tuesday, ruling out any checks on trade with the British mainland after Brexit.

Barnier said customs forms could be completed in advance online and the "only visible systematic checks" would involve scanning bar codes on lorries or containers on ferries or in ports.

The DUP has dismissed the warnings about the peace process.

Under the European Commission's "backstop" plan for the Irish border, customs and Value-Added Tax checks would be carried out using existing customs transit procedures, to avoid the need for physical inspections at the border, he said. Dimitris Avramopoulos, the European Union commissioner for migration and home affairs, said Barnier had briefed the body on the state of play in the negotiations.

Mr Barnier vowed he would keep fighting to protect the integrity of the European Union single market. It is a negative negotiation.

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That could destroy relations between Mrs May and the DUP - which has warned it has a "blood red" line on the issue.

His comments came as the Democratic Unionists indicated they were prepared to vote against the Budget if it is unhappy with the Brexit deal.

A spokesman for Mrs May said on Monday that continuing any joint customs arrangements with the European Union would be "temporary".

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".

'The EU27 need to be ready on day one to address issues like citizen's rights, transport or customs coherently'.

"An agreement is within reach for October 17, next Wednesday, if we succeed to the end of this negotiation now", Barnier said in a speech to business leaders at the European Parliament.

'We are going to have to carry this deal on our own benches. The sides will continue negotiations through the weekend with hopes for a breakthrough as early as Monday.

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