The DUP are in pole position to remove the threats both of a hard border and a border poll

Brexit ‘s revival of  the spectre of a hard border and the support  of Ireland’s partners for a united Ireland  with consent within the EU was the perfect formula for the complete polarisation that has duly happened at Westminster level.

Nationalism is now without representation at Westminster for the first time since 1966. The SDLP’s special pleading   for an anti-Brexit pact failed and their attack on Sinn Fein for abstaining from Westminster as if it was a new idea left the voters unmoved.  Now that so many voters have abandoned the centre ground in the sudden death Westminster election, perhaps the opposite poles can now do a Stormont deal without looking over their shoulders.

Deals  in the Westminster  context are just as tricky and can have unintended consequences.

What sort of deal do the DUP want at Westminster now that NI MPs are in their strongest bargaining position since the Labour government of 1974-79.when the UUs won five extra seats for Northern Ireland?

By 1987 an unintended consequence of the deal was the benefit to the SDLP of 3 seats boosted by the Anglo-Irish Agreement  of 1985 so loathed by Unionists.  It left them banging their heads against the wall with frustration when they found the writ of the famous veto didn’t run that far. Dublin was keen on the extra seats as they gave the SDLP a platform against SF encroachment. The agreement  also put the moribund 1982 Assembly which the SDLP had boycotted  out of its misery.

This time DUP statesmanship and  self interest  can come together.   “A frictionless “ border is not in the gift of the British government or the Irish government alone.  As the EU negotiator Michel Barnier reminded everybody  any form of special treatment for Ireland means customs controls. A softening of British terms for Northern Ireland at least if not the whole UK would mitigate border problems mightily, underpinned by free movement within the British Isles.

The DUP must now require a minority Conservative  government  to apply for the special status of membership of the  single market.  With the monopoly of the SNP broken, the Scots can do likewise with cross party support. The Scottish government  and the NI Executive should demand  the partnership role in the negotiations  that Theresa May refused in another era.

The DUP are in a unique position to make the demand effective. Sinn Fein  would find it  difficult if not impossible to keep resisting a return to the Assembly.

The crucial initiative would be the DUP’s. And remember , the softer the border, the softer the support for a border poll and a united Ireland.

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  • AndyB
  • hgreen

    Meaningless. Mayhem will have lost authority in her own party to negotiate Brexit. She’s bucked and hard Brexit is now in the bin.

  • Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory?

  • Probably means the EU will drive a very hard bargain as they will expect the UK government to accept it?

  • ted hagan

    Theresa May knows no shame. Even with DUP support she is bound to face revolts within her own party, and inevitably yet another election under a new leader. The Tories are in turmoil;

  • Redstar

    “The DUP are in a unique position to make the demand effective. Sinn Fein would find it difficult if not impossible to keep resisting a return to the Assembly”

    On the contrary Brian. If DUP get supplied with sweeteners like for example a halt to investigations into British forces killings- SF could find it impossible to return to Stormont

  • Madra Uisce

    Which is exactly what the EU should do

  • The worm!

    No problem, in that case “Direct Rule” looks better than ever.

  • Redstar

    Double edged sword being tied to the Tories as junior partner esp if austerity continues

  • Pasty2012

    The DUP demanding a soft No Border Guards with look out posts – is this what the many Loyalists who voted for the DUP expected or had been demanding? Did the likes of Wee Jamie and his pals not call for Border Posts to be put back ? Maybe the DUP can get the British Government to pay the shortfall of £490Million and thus remove the ongoing issues that are causing the biggest issue here in restoring the devolved Government ?

    Teresa May picking up the Bill could prove to be the deal behind closed doors?

  • ted hagan

    May has just flushed the Good Friday Agreement down the toilet.
    How on earth is any party, apart from the DUP, going to be able to deal with Brokenshire, or whatever faceless wonder takes his place?

  • The worm!

    No chance, DUP dominance assured for the foreseeable future.

    Unionists will not repeat the mistake made at the last assembly election for a long, long time.

  • ted hagan

    Bill or no bill, the Tories are still supping with a leader who is at the centre of a financial scandal investigation.

  • Redstar

    So they will vote against Tory austerity measures?

  • The worm!

    Doesn’t matter whether they do or not. Nobody in England or Scotland votes for the DUP, or hadn’t you noticed?

  • Redstar

    Just wondered how they will explain being the only party here supporting Tory cuts here

  • Redstar

    Not to mention endorsed by paramilitaries

  • Surveyor

    A couple of by-elections in Labour’s favour and it’s back to a GE, Brian. Strong and stable government it is not.

  • Macca

    Considering the result represents Unionism going at full tilt and Sinn Fein’s traditional support finding it hard to overcome their apathy for all things Westminster, I think last night’s results are remarkable for Sinn Fein. Just imagine if they and their supporters genuinely took Westminster elections seriously.

    On another note, looking at how all of the border regions seems to have voted “green”, there is little doubt those communities are concerned about Brexit…the DUP needs to be very, very wary of this in their negotiations with Theresa May. If they treat these communities with contempt the SF vote really will start coming out for Westminster elections.

  • The worm!

    Are you being deliberately obtuse or do you really not get it?

    It doesn’t matter!!!!!!!

    Generally speaking, the prods have eventually woken up to what the Catholics have been doing at the ballet box for years. Every vote is primarily a judgement on the strength or otherwise of the union, and if you care about that, then that is how you must vote over all other considerations.

  • Pasty2012

    Under the rules she can’t call an election, she has to ask and get 66% of the Westminster to agree to an election and it is unlikely that the other party’s will agree. If She resigns and the Tory’s elect another leader then that leader will have to carry on until such time as the Labour Party then believe it is right to go to the Polls again.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Indeed, how long before the mainland media starts to scrutinise such things?

  • Madra Uisce

    They already are. Have a listen to James O Briens show on LBC radio.

  • James Henry

    “The DUP’s “price” for propping up a new Tory government will include a promise that there would be no post-Brexit special status for Northern Ireland, the party’s leader in Westminster has confirmed.
    “Nigel Dodds, re-elected as North Belfast MP, said that among the DUP’s preconditions would be an insistence that there was no separate deal that would effectively keep the region with one foot still inside the EU.”

    https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/jun/09/theresa-may-reaches-deal-with-dup-to-form-government-after-shock-election-result-northern-ireland

  • Mike the First

    Or they can vote no confidence in their own government. Which takes a simple majority.

    The Fixed-Term Parliaments Act is in practice pretty meaningless.

  • ted hagan

    Why is it unlikely other parties would agree to another election? They’d be mad not to. The Tories are in disarray.

  • runnymede

    No Brian the DUP are not going to advance the nationalist agenda by making NI even more detached from the rest of the UK

  • Sharpie

    I get a feeling DUP are going to regret this as much as Theresa May will. The public mood is heading in a different direction away from UKIPism and right wing towards centrist liberalism. Big spotlight and measuring tape coming to show the scale of the gap between NI Unionism and Britishness.

  • Davie Sproule

    Neither of these are pressing concerns. What the DUP need to be getting is immunity for our brave servicemen in the security forces and greater protections for the Union.

  • hollandia

    I find myself wondering what are the opinions of Ruth Davison, Alan Duncan, Iain Stewart, Margot James, Crispin Blunt and David Mundell think of the Tories new chums? Or indeed the twenty plus Catholic Tory MPs?

  • Ciarán Doherty

    “centrist liberalism”? The swing was towards the left; denationalisation, public service, wealth redistribution.

    Time to get it through your heads guys, centrism is dead, Blairism is dead, the left-right divide is back because of course in reality it never went away.

  • BonaparteOCoonassa

    What the DUP/UDA want is to disassociate the party from the gangsters and murder gangs, although they seem to be inextricably linked. I can’t see the UK public being too keen on that sort of organisation pulling the strings of the UK government.

  • Sharpie

    I hear you, however to get to centrism from where we are (across Europe) you have to head in a left direction. As for liberalism being dead – I don’t think so. Neo-liberalism maybe but liberal policies remain. Freedoms are liberal. This is true in other countries too. We are rebounding but I don’t see appetite anywhere for hard left.

  • BonaparteOCoonassa

    So a hard border with customs posts then! The DUP/UDA will need to demand extra moony for NI then.

  • Ciarán Doherty

    “Hard left” should always include a hefty dose of personal freedoms, I don’t think there’s any appetite for left wing authoritarianism ofc but there is a desire for more radical ways of distributing wealth and reshaping the economy. This is not just a revolution of progressive attitudes to identity politics etc.

  • Reader

    ted hagan: How on earth is any party, apart from the DUP, going to be able to deal with Brokenshire, or whatever faceless wonder takes his place?.
    Um, yes, it would be just like if the SDLP had joined a progressive rainbow coalition in 2010 – a breach of the GFA?

  • Sprite

    the DUP have always argued for a “soft” Brexit to maintain the invisibility of the border. they favour staying in the Single Market – if they have influence in this area it is likely to be a moderating one

  • MainlandUlsterman

    I don’t think she’ll see out the year; may not last the summer. Her authority is shot and she’s an electoral liability for the Tories now. As soon as the heir has had a chance to do all the backroom deals he/she needs to do, she’ll be forced to resign and will be replaced by …

  • MainlandUlsterman

    I’m staying optimistic with Brian for now. DUP for all their faults do want to keep the border as soft as possible and they will ward off the chances of a new quasi-border at the Irish Sea, which is also really important for NI.

    SF supporters, genuine question, happy or not with the NI results last night? Seems a mixed bag for you guys – seats but vote share stagnation on 29 per cent. Meanwhile DUP up to 36 per cent now.

  • lizmcneill

    Did anyone tell Nelson McCausland that?

  • Sean Danaher

    Well shows how rubbish I am at predicting. We live in interesting times

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Me too, I assumed ICM had it right and YouGov wrong; and thought there might be a late swing to Tories to boot. It didn’t materialise.

    I think it looks like – touch wood – good news Remainer / soft Brexiters. I don’t see how May gets hard Brexit measures through parliament now, when you take into account the Ken Clarkes and Anna Soubrys in her own ranks. The only majority you can get in parliament now is for soft Brexit measures.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    I don’t think he’s running the show

  • MainlandUlsterman

    I’ve been doing a client presentation which got in the way of my election and now catching up. A few things about where we are
    – May’s authority is gone – and I can’t see her lasting long before a Tory coup – months not years.
    – Vote share is interesting though – for all that the Tories have had a nightmare, May got 42.4 per cent of the vote, up 5.5 per cent from Cameron’s result in 2015 which was deemed a “success”. Getting over 40 per cent has been the stuff of dreams for the Tories and Labour for a long time now – and here they have both managed it. One is being written off as a political failure (not least by me) and the other, while claiming a victory of sorts, only has 261 seats and nowhere near actually winning the election. Funny old game innit.

  • The Living End

    “DUP dominance assured for the foreseeable future.”

    Is that triumphalism?

  • The Living End

    So you’re saying that no matter what the DUP do or don’t do, no matter the corruption, austerity cuts, or the results of Brexit, ‘prods’ (your word) will continue to vote DUP.

    Sure what could go wrong with that?

    (BTW, I think you’re right, and the same applies to the ‘other’ too)

  • lizmcneill

    Did we have this Unionist dominance shtick at the election before last too? And then look what happened at AE17.

  • Sprite

    I guess one ex-MLA does not a policy make!

  • James Henry

    The fact that Corbyn has appointed tankies like Seamus Milme and Andrew Murray as senior advisers suggests you may be over-optimistic if you “don’t think there’s any appetite for left wing authoritarianism”.

  • Zorin001

    Or the 19 LGBT Tories in this parliament

  • hollandia

    Those names I listed were some of them.

  • Zorin001

    I blanked on that, should have realised when I say Davison and Duncan listed. Davison doesn’t sound happy at all with the deal.

  • lizmcneill

    So how do they achieve a soft land border, no sea border and no special status for NI?

  • Reader

    Redstar: Not to mention endorsed by paramilitaries
    Both unionist parties rejected the LCC endorsement. You probably knew that, of course:
    http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/general-election-2017/uup-and-dup-reject-loyalist-communities-councils-endorsement-35792573.html

  • Accountant

    What deal – it will be issue by issue. And does Ruth Davison really think reversal of same sex in GB is on DUP shopping list ?

    Funny how the Brits only now take notice of our politicians.

  • Accountant

    Who are DUP/UDA ?

  • John Spence

    There will be a Border Poll when the NIA votes to ask the SoS for one and not before that. In any event it shouldn’t be a factor in determining policy on other issues.

    The DUP’s support would decline greatly if they now supported status which differentiated NI from GB in any significant way. A huge majority of unionists are simply opposed to the EU.

    There is no need for posts at the border for customs purposes in NI. The EU threatens to require posts in the south, but that’s a matter for them to negotiate with the Irish govt. If there are posts they will be symbolic only, because we know from history that smugglers can avoid passing them.

    It would be ironic if the Irish govt. agreed to disruptive customs posts in their territory, while unionists supported the type of seamless border we have at present.

  • Robin Keogh

    “The crucial initiative would be the DUP’s. And remember , the softer the border, the softer the support for a border poll and a united Ireland.”
    The continued growth of the Nat vote way ahead of the Unionist vote alongside the continued rise of SF suggests you could be very wrong there.

  • james

    I think Finucane lost much of his appeal, outside of the sectarian mob, once the Jude-Collins style waffle over the murder of Edgar Graham began.