Wales politics

Brexit: Drakeford warns May against placating DUP

Mark Drakeford
Image caption Mark Drakeford said the DUP and Tory Brexiteers objecting to her deal were "unplacatable"

First Minister Mark Drakeford has warned the prime minister against trying "to placate the unplacatable people of the DUP and her own backwoodsmen" over a Brexit deal.

He met Theresa May for talks on Wednesday.

Mr Drakeford said a deal could be done in the Commons if she moves towards a softer Brexit.

He has been invited to attend Cabinet sub-committee meetings to discuss preparations for leaving the EU.

The first minister's comments come after leading Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg said Theresa May's deal - which was defeated by MPs last week - could be "reformed" to win around opponents.

But he said he could not vote for any deal that retains the backstop - the insurance policy that ensures an open-border within the island of Ireland.

Mr Drakeford said a deal could be done in the House of Commons if she moved further in the direction of the Welsh Government's joint Brexit policy with Plaid Cymru, which called for maintaining close economic ties with the EU.

He said it was "consistent with the direction of travel which led her to the Chequers agreement last year".

"If there is to be an agreement some movement will have to happen and I think the Prime Minister can help to make that happen," Mr Drakeford said.

He warned her not to "try to placate the unplacatable people of the DUP and her own backwoodsmen, that direction does not offer her a deal".

Mr Drakeford also said he would wait until after Tuesday's votes in the House of Commons before deciding on whether to call for a further referendum but he said that if MPs could not break the stalemate a public vote would be the only option left.

Image caption David Jones said there cannot be a deal that "destroys British democracy"

The first minister's Welsh Government spent much of Tuesday warning of the consequences of a no deal Brexit - which it has called on Theresa May to rule out.

Welsh Conservative Brexit MP David Jones told BBC Wales "everybody sensible" would like to see the UK leave the EU with a deal.

But he added: "What we can't do, at the same time, is to have any agreement that destroys British democracy, because we've left the European Union in order to restore that".

He added that his preference would be for the removal of the backstop from Theresa May's withdrawal agreement.

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The former Brexit minister said the prime minister's plan to return to the EU and attempt to either remove or time limit the backstop was a "sensible way forward".

He said Theresa May's stance had "softened" and that she "understands the strength of feeling against the backstop".

Mr Drakeford's meeting with the UK government on the same day she met the Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon.

Both have been invited to attend "all relevant meetings of a new Cabinet sub-committee" on preparations for Brexit, a UK government spokesman said.

"This builds on the increasing engagement in recent months between the UK government and the devolved administrations and our commitment to give them an enhanced role in the next phase of the Brexit process, respecting their vital interests in these negotiations."

"The prime minister also made clear that the right way to rule out no deal is to agree a deal, and that is what the Government wants to achieve."