DUP rejects 'Brexit without backstop' plan
The DUP will not be supporting the alternative Brexit model Common Market 2.0, the party's Sammy Wilson has said.
The MP said it did not ensure the avoidance of a hard border.
Labour's Stephen Kinnock said he and other MPs were having discussions with the DUP to try and win their support for this option.
MPs will vote for a second time on a series of options later on Monday, amid deadlock over the government's withdrawal deal.
Mr Kinnock is backing Common Market 2.0 - a proposal that would keep the UK closely tied to the EU.
It is not clear if the DUP will vote for any of the tabled options.
A party source said it would wait and see which options were selected by Speaker John Bercow.
They added that the party would vote in a way that stuck to its principles regarding the union, and would ensure the 2016 referendum result was respected.
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Mr Wilson, the DUP's Brexit spokesman, said the party had abstained on voting for the Common Market 2.0 model last week and would probably do the same again.
He added that he did not think a softer Brexit option was "inevitable" and Prime Minister Theresa May still had the "opportunity to negotiate hard with EU".
"They need agreement just as much as we do," he said.
Common Market 2.0, also known as Norway Plus, would propose membership of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) and a "comprehensive customs arrangement".
Its proponents say this would remove the need for the Irish border backstop to ever take effect.
The so-called backstop is an insurance policy designed to avoid a hard border "under all circumstances" between NI and the Irish Republic.
Mr Kinnock told BBC News NI that MPs supporting Common Market 2.0 were involved in "intense discussions" with the DUP.
"They understand that frictionless trade is what deals with the backstop and means it would never have to be used and that's why they abstained from Common Market 2.0 on Wednesday," he said.
"I think that was a very interesting signal that the DUP can see that Common Market 2.0 is a way of leaving the European Union, but doing so in a way that means the backstop never needs to be activated."
However, DUP leader Arlene Foster said the party was "not in any discussions with the Labour party".
"It is quite funny actually, if we talk to other MPs now we're in intensive negotiations with these people," she said.
The DUP leader also said reports that seven of her 10 MPs backed Mrs May's withdrawal agreement were not true.
The UK is now scheduled to leave the EU on 12 April, after MPs again rejected the withdrawal agreement.
Monday's votes at Westminster are non-binding, but the intention is to see what outcome, if any, commands a majority.
Meanwhile, Conservative MP Richard Drax has apologised to the DUP for voting in favour of the government's withdrawal agreement last Friday, having previously opposed the deal twice when it was voted on in Parliament.
Mr Drax said he had "let down my colleagues in the DUP".
On Sunday evening, Mr Wilson said that his party would not vote for the prime minister's Brexit deal even if she presented it to the House of Commons "a thousand times".
Speaking to BBC News NI, he said the party's position was fixed.
On Friday, the DUP's deputy leader Nigel Dodds said he would prefer to "remain in the EU rather than risk Northern Ireland's position" in the union.
The party has stressed that the Irish border backstop, contained in the government's deal, breaches the party's one red line when it comes to Northern Ireland being treated differently from Great Britain.
It has argued that any differences could pose a risk to the future of the union of the UK.
Away from Westminster, Sinn Féin leaders, Mary Lou McDonald and Michelle O'Neill, are in Brussels to meet the EU's chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier.
After the meeting, Ms McDonald said the backstop would have to come back in a "new iteration, another form" if the UK left without a deal because the UK had commitments to Ireland enshrined in international law.
The "chaos" at Westminster had left Irish people feeling "concern, frustration, worry and dismay," she added.
Meanwhile, UK agriculture ministers have warned that some sectors will suffer "significant stress and disruption" in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
In some of the strongest language to date, ministers also said that devolved administrations would not have the cash to cope unless Treasury made extra money available.
Last week, a group of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs ministers from around the UK attended a meeting in Whitehall and a statement was released later.
Northern Ireland was represented by Lord Duncan.
Monday 1 April: MPs hold another set of votes on Brexit options to see if they can agree on a way forward
Wednesday 3 April: Potentially another round of so-called indicative votes
Wednesday 10 April: Emergency summit of EU leaders to consider any UK request for further extension
Friday 12 April: Brexit day if UK does not seek/EU does not grant further delay
23-26 May: European Parliamentary elections