The Conservatives may have to change leader to “heal wounds” with the DUP and ensure its confidence and supply agreement “stays in place”, a top MP from the party has told Sky News.
Sammy Wilson, the DUP’s Brexit spokesperson, issued a stern warning to the Conservatives as he pressed Mrs May to change her course on Brexit.
He suggested all 10 DUP MPs could vote down this month’s budget to “pull the government back into keeping its promises”.
Asked if that would be under a different leader, Mr Wilson told Sky News: “That may lead to a different leader.
“But that’s not a question for us, we’re not members of the Conservative Party.
“That’s up to the Conservative Party to decide whether there is someone else who can heal those wounds and take the party in a different direction, which would ensure that the agreement could stay in place.”
Speaking to Sky News in his constituency of Larne on Northern Ireland’s east coast, Mr Wilson said that the DUP were not going to be “bullied” or “bribed” into supporting a deal that could see Northern Ireland effectively kept in the single market or customs union.
His constituency contains the port of Larne, identified by EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier as a place where checks on animals and animal products from Great Britain into Northern Ireland could be intensified in order to prevent a hard border with the Republic of Ireland.
Mr Wilson said he would “never” vote for a withdrawal deal containing the sort of backstop proposal briefed by Mr Barnier to DUP leader Arlene Foster in Brussels this week.
He added that the DUP could vote down the Budget but still support the government in a confidence vote, as long as it changed its approach to Brexit.
It comes as the deadline looms for a deal between London and Brussels.
Mr Barnier said on Wednesday an agreement was “within reach” of being met by next Wednesday, when EU28 leaders gather for a summit in Brussels.
Michel Barnier announced 80-85% of the treaty had been agreed and promised Brussels would respect the “constitutional integrity” of the UK.
But he said that checks on animals and animal food products passing between Northern Ireland and Great Britain would have to increase tenfold.