Unionists urge May to bring focus back to Brexit deal after confidence vote win

Unionist parties in Northern Ireland have said that Theresa May must now focus on the task at hand after dramatically defeating a bid to oust her as Tory leader.

DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds, speaking shortly after the 200-117 vote of confidence in the Prime Minister, said his party’s focus was on the draft agreement.

“Our focus has very much been on the Withdrawal Agreement and the changes that need to be made to it to get our support, and support across Parliament.

“I don’t think this vote really changes very much in terms of the arithmetic of that,” he said.

“We had a good meeting with the Prime Minster today, she understands what our concerns are about the legally binding and indefinite arrangements we are tied into.

“Whether or not she delivers anything that changes that remains to be seen.

“She knows what has to be done and hopefully that is what has got through.”

In terms of trust, Mr Dodds noted it was actions not words that the DUP were interested in from the Prime Minister.

“There are commitments that haven’t been lived up to in terms of actions, so whatever she says, it’s whatever is delivered in the text that we’ll be examining very closely.

“We wouldn’t be supporting (any Labour-tabled) no confidence motion, it would be illogical to do this while we still have to wait for the outcome of the work the Prime Minister is now engaged in, and while we’re still engaged in getting the withdrawal agreement changed.

“Obviously, if the deal as it is currently proposed was to pass, that would be a different situation, but we’re not at that stage.”

Ulster Unionist Party leader, Robin Swann said a no-deal Brexit still needed to be avoided.

“Now that the question of the leadership of the Conservative Party has been settled, we now need to see the Prime Minister and her Government working to ensure that our concerns in relation to the backstop are addressed,” he said.

“It is vital that minds now focus on the most important task at hand – to make sure that the United Kingdom leaves the European Union with a deal that works for the nation in its entirety.

“The Prime Minister must return to the negotiating table to get a deal which preserves the economic and constitutional integrity of the UK. And if more time is needed to get the right deal, then the Prime Minister should seek to extend Article 50 and ensure that we don’t leave with ‘no-deal’.”