DUP are the new pro-Agreement UUP…

BORE that I am, I’ve just been re-listening to Mark Devenport’s interview with Environment Minister Arlene Foster on Inside Politics at the weekend. Mark was questioning Foster on Finance Minister Peter Robinson’s statement that “without an agreed programme for government, there cannot be government.” Devenport suggested that since there is no threat to the existence of the government if the UUP and SDLP vote against the Programme for Government in the new year, the only way Stormont could collapse would be if the DUP withdrew from it. Certainly, the DUP would find it impossible to alone serve alongside Sinn Fein without UUP cover, and so it made it made sense for Foster to focus on the divisions within the UUP about whether to go into opposition or stay in power. She had to, as she couldn’t actually say what the DUP’s intentions are. But there must have been a few listeners smiling as she accused her former party of operating ‘internal opposition’ in the Executive and not abiding by rules set up for mandatory coalition when she was a member – as this perfectly described the tactics of her new party in the old executive. The DUP and UUP have almost swapped positions; the DUP becoming the champions of the rules of the Good Friday Agreement – and clearly very dependent on it – and the UUP threatening to quit the government in a strop – although no-one seriously believes they will.