How can May encourage the other parties to the Stormont talks without disclosing the DUP deal? ( new version)

So after a confusing day against a background of tragedy in which it was first reported that the DUP deal would be postponed until next week, Theresa May  is meeting the other  Assembly parties without them. Make  of that what you will. All of Westminster will be agog . The elephant will be in the room in non-corporeal form. May can hardly  afford  to answer question one, can she?

Mrs O’Neill has already made it clear she will raise the issue of the DUP deal when she meets the Prime Minister.

(Jeremy Corbyn would like to know too).

She hinted that she might demand the scrapping of the DUP deal if it “undermines” the Good Friday Agreement.

If she doesn’t then Gerry Adams  certainly will. Will he feel a pang of nostalgia at his  first visit to the Downing St sofas since – I don’t know – ages,   looking forward eagerly  to – as far as I know – his first encounter with Theresa May?

This meeting is brought to you by the team of  Brokenshire and the boss that gave as their excuse for  deciding  not to  mediate seriously from the start, that some issues  “were devolved”. As if there was any distinction between  devolved and not devolved as factors in breakdown. They also shared with the DUP the complaint that Troubles inquiries were focusing too much on the Army, ensuring Adams’ first rejection of Brokenback as a mediator as long ago as March.

So at this late stage,  the non unionist parties are all demanding an outside, neutral chair for the Stormont  talks, an option provided for in the GFA  which Brokenshire has rejected. Will he and May oblige Adams or threaten SF with direct rule after 29 June, if they refuse  the prime minister’s  appeal to return to Stormont, with  Dublin  currently preoccupied with a new Taoiseach?   What price will Adams try to exact to go back?  In their absence could the DUP accept it?

I have an uneasy feeling it won’t go well for May, who is  a novice in this business as in so much else.


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  • Brian,

    You might be right… However, I’m fairly sure that on UTV Ken Reid said that tomorrow’s meetings between May and the Assembly parties was planned before the election, and that he had reported it at the time.

    There’s a sceptical tweet by Ken in the middle of this UTV report.

  • Brian Walker

    Pete, Your doubts are correct.I read “BBC Live” but didn’t check the date. It was yesterday. As you were. I;ll correct on the stone,,

  • ted hagan

    After John Major’s observation yesterday, there must be a clatter of Tories wondering whether the DUP deal is worth it and whether it’s not just another eff-up by Theresa May. I actually thought she might have had the political ‘nous’ to visit the scene of the tower block disaster today.

  • Neonlights

    I hope that the local assembly is put to sleep. Of course, the local parties are in favour of it, but in practice it is a dangerous device that does nothing more than perpetuate sectarianism and even extols the division of our society. Northern Ireland doesn’t need it.

  • runnymede

    Mrs May doesn’t have a ‘hard Brexit line’ Brian. Unless ‘hard’ now means anything Remainers want it to.

  • runnymede

    It needn’t be like that but the way it has been set up makes it so

  • Redstar

    Put to sleep, building raised to the ground and every mention of it removed from history

  • Ciara 007

    Now that Farron has stepped down, is it possible the Lib Dems might possibly relieve the DUP of their duties?

  • 1729torus

    The DUP and Brokenshire already underestimated SF’s willingness to go without seats early this year. Who’s to say the bluff won’t be called by SF again? The DUP seem more scared of loss of perks TBH. The threat of the disruption a failure would cause to the A50 negotiations, must be on Adam’s mind, even if Theresa May hasn’t considered it.

    Concerning May being a novice, SF put out a paper on Brexit and agriculture that shows they have a good grasp of the issues, well ahead of the Brexiteers. The sloppiness and ignorance that Brokenshire displays is also evident in the government’s approach to Brexit; it would be interesting to see what SF have to say about the A50 negotiations after their meeting.

    London also seems to think that it can negotiate in bad faith here, and the rest of the EU or the UK won’t notice, which is odd. If Brokenshire continues to act like this, more and more will think that the Tories are completely in the pocket of the DUP.

  • William Kinmont

    For any progress SF will have to accept Arlene as FM a major bargaining chip they created for themselves at little cost to their long term strategy. If they can cash this in now for some steps toward UI will it hurt votes in the short term, would this then matter?
    How long will British public/press tolerate us holding back their Government , it’s alright for generation or two here but how many more days can this go on.
    SF will be the only ones in the room with a strategy and the ones who can easily afford to walk away.

  • William Kinmont

    Could he redesignate as DUP, that would mean his beliefs would not be compromised by any modern progressive ideas .

  • Karl

    Its has to be a hard Brexit because a soft Brexit is just aspects of EU membership at a much greater cost than it costs the UK for actual membership, thus exposing Brexit in stark terms for the con it is.

  • james

    “For any progress SF will have to accept Arlene as FM a major bargaining chip they created for themselves at little cost to their long term strategy. If they can cash this in…..”

    SF can hold out indefinitely on that if they like – all that means is that the Shinners will be ‘delivering’ for their voters an extended period of Direct Rule from London – and showing the electorate in Ireland proper that they are incapable of governing.

    All at little or no cost to the Unionist long term strategy.

    Fill your boots…

  • Barneyt

    Interesting. That is a safer option for the Torys and a kick in the teeth for the DUP. My personal hope is that the Torys are left to lie in the bed they have made for themselves and are left with two options; 1. exposed by the DUPDUP exposed to GB for what they are. 2. A new election. The Libs however will have to backtrack considerably or we are seeing the real prospect of a new referendum

  • Barneyt

    Interesting. That is a safer option for the Torys and a kick in the teeth for the DUP. My personal hope is that the Torys are left to lie in the bed they have made for themselves and are left with two options; 1. exposed by the DUPDUP exposed to GB for what they are. 2. A new election. The Libs however will have to backtrack considerably or we are seeing the real prospect of a new referendum

  • Barneyt

    Why is Brokenshire in the middle of the confidence and supply negotiations between the DUP and Torys. This may come across as an innocent and conflicting question, however it matters little in UK terms where the DUP comes. The NI context should not matter as they are once more in UK terms, just another UK party. It only emphasises the blatent conflict of interest that evolved under Brokenshire in recent months and is now nailed on by the current negotiations.

    We do know Brokenshire has declared his unionist hand, and I mean that in the purest NI terms, but why is this blatent and persistent conflict of interest not being met with a straight arm? And there is the confict and contradition. The westminister and nothern ireland issues are intertwined but in UK election terms should be distinctly separate.

    With regards to meeting the other Assembly parties, this can have nothing to do with getting Teresa over the line, unless SF are about to make a miraculous U-turn and the earth is indeed flat. For me she is perhaps attempting to give reassurance and nothing more but this too is pointless. It makes little sense why she would engage with the other parties if the DUP deal in on or off.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    No, James, SF are oh so cleverly letting the DUP yet again show the electorate that they are incapable of seeing beyond crude party interest in their support for a leader who has (at best) shown gross ministerial incompetence by letting the RHI subsidies of 160% (without cap) pass through her department. Foster selfishly made this an issue of a “me & the Union” package which has ensured the wagons have closed round her (as Am Ghobsmacht predicted on Slugger), but the first reaction of most sane non-DUP committed Unionists was that she was culpable and she should go. We are now finding the control of the UK government passing into the hands of two people, herself and Teresa, who have very clearly shown that both lack the ability to properly assess a situation and make appropriate decisions. And we are going into a negotiation which would stretch the abilities of Klemens von Metternich!

  • SeaanUiNeill

    As Karl says below, runny, “soft” mans things which the leavers find unpalatable. We are no unlikely to see any deal that significantly differs from the Norway deal, as the whole of Europe can see that to the slapdash approach May already displayed to entering negotiations, she now clearly does not have the support of the country and is obliged to tear apart her countries role as a guarantor of the Belfast Agreement in order to save herself the inconvenience of a house move for a few weeks longer.

  • Nevin

    “Theresa May is meeting the other Assembly parties without them.”

    I thought she and James were meeting each of the five party delegations in turn during the course of today to discuss the current state of the Stormont impasse.

    “May can hardly afford to answer question one, can she?”

    As a deal allegedly has yet to be done there’s no answer to be given. Perhaps some delegations will leave in a huff.

  • John Collins

    Apparently for any one pound NI might get out of negotiations to go into Government, or an arrangement to support the Tories therein, the rest of GB, as in England,Scotland and Wales, must get £35 between them. It appears the GB Treasury are not over enthused by any arrangement of this nature.

  • Jane

    I think you’re right, this won’t go well for May. On the upside though, it might help to develop her negotiating skills a bit, in time for brexit.

  • Jane

    I was wondering if this might impact the Barnett formula.

  • The Irishman

    Nice post Seaan.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Thank you kindly….

  • Neonlights

    SF have nothing to lose by the fall of power sharing. I think the DUP would suffer a symbolic loss, as their ability to claim that they were governing the province would logically be severely eroded. Historically it is more and more interesting to compare things with Sunningdale, which was little more than a veiled prolongation of Unionist supremacy.

  • ted hagan

    Gratifying to see a Slugger piece focusing on the serious threat to the peace process from the DUP/Tory manoeuvres rather than the hand-rubbing articles that centre on the DUP ‘bringing home the bacon’.
    It seems, too, that the ‘bacon’ will have to be dished out to the Scots and Welsh governments as well, something that will surely incense voters in the Tory heartlands of England.
    It just gets messier and messier.

  • ted hagan

    Brokenshire wears two hats for these procedures. One has bells on it, the other is shaped like a cone.

  • William Kinmont

    Dup seem to be doing their best to delagitamise direct rule.

  • John Collins

    Yes, apparently it has to do with the Formula, according to the correspondent I heard.

  • the Moor

    In periods of minority government, the executive is naturally weakened and the legislature correspondingly emboldened, dissipating the power of the party whips and facilitating cross-party parleying. There have been intimations in the past day or so that the Tories may pull the deal – the +Barnett add-on costs of the deal being more than the Treasury will tolerate – calculataing that the DUP won’t in any circumstance of extremis support the formation of a Corbyn administartion. Major and Cameron have both cautioned against supping with the Dupwits and on the Labour side there have been soundings too of willingness to treat Brexit as matter of ‘national’ consensus.