Theresa May could dump the DUP to break Brexit deadlock

PSNI chief constable George Hamilton

PSNI chief constable George Hamilton

That would necessitate product standard checks on some goods coming into Northern Ireland from elsewhere in the UK.

He said: "She has declared herself to be a unionist, she has repeated that time and time again, she knows the consequences if she walks away from that promise, not just for Northern Ireland because of course she will open a Pandora's box in Scotland as well".

"Trade from Great Britain into Northern Ireland would be in danger of restriction", Foster said.

However, she declined to say the backstop would be "time-limited", a phrase which was in the original proposal published by London in June.

In an effort to find a way to avoid a hard border, reports have suggested the United Kingdom could remain tied to Brussels' rules beyond the end of 2020 to give negotiators more time to finalise an overall trade deal. European Union advisers of the 27 member states staying on in the European Union after Brexit are also due to meet in Brussels that day.

"We are not there yet".

One close to negotiations going on in the background between the two parties said: "There are very intense talks going on at the moment but people are getting massively fed up with them".

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With the negotiations coming to a head, the central focus of the discussions on Thursday is thought to have been the issue of the Northern Ireland "backstop" meant to ensure there is no return of a "hard border" with the Republic.

"There will be a flurry of calls over the weekend between ministers", they said.

But he added: "If there are queues at Dover, if the M20 becomes a auto park, if there are certain difficulties for a short time because the European Union decides to cut off its own nose to spite its face, if the European Union is a mafia-style organisation that says "if you want to leave we will kneecap you" then all the better for leaving, because you have to get out of that organisation".

European Union leaders have a two-day summit starting Wednesday to assess the progress in the talks and if there is no breakthrough there, another summit could be planned for November.

She also denied the DUP's recent actions - including a threat to vote down the budget - represented the party "flexing muscle".

By withdrawing its support, the DUP could make it hard for May to pass legislation through parliament, including the budget which will be voted on later this month. She needs to keep either her own party onside or attract votes from the main opposition Labour Party.

"What we can not do is see the United Kingdom locked in via the backdoor to a customs union arrangement which would leave us in an indefinite limbo - that would not be leaving the EU", he said on Friday.

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