“The DUP deal is in danger”

As many suspected… Sam McBride in the Newsletter reflects unease at the delay as well as DUP surface optimism that a deal is still on course.  Ken Reid of UTV tweets that a deal this week is unlikely. The delay can hardly be only out of respect for the still unknown number of victims of the Grenfell tower fire, certainly as far as the government is concerned . Mrs May is visiting the tower  today as well as  meeting  five Assembly party leaderships.

The posh London papers reflect a louder chorus of doubts about the wisdom of a DUP deal to keep the minority Conservative government in office. The  problems are as much about the implications of financial matters like scrapping air passenger duty  as they are about the effects on the peace process.

Theresa May  has her work cut out to come away with a positive outcome from today’s  series of  separate talks with the five party leaderships.  I see Nigel  Dodds will represent  the DUP and Arlene has gone home. This must mean  no new important business will be transacted in her absence.

It will be interesting to see what linkage can be established between potential Westminster and Stormont  deals.

.Separate talks  at first suggest long overdue  mutual briefing sessions  for the prime minister but little more  beyond staking out positions. No doubt she will wish to reassure the other parties of the government’s  impartiality under the GFA.

But can she convince them without disclosing in full the deal with the DUP?

Will she  concede the independent chair for the Stormont talks which most of them are demanding and Brokenshire   refused only  days ago?

Might she go even further  and face them with a direct choice between a return to Stormont or direct rule?

The logic of the situation would have been to meet the other parties after the Westminster deal had been struck – unless she’s been willing to be influenced by their predictable doubts about its implications for Stormont as much as Westminster.   The present sequence is a gift to Gerry Adams.  Baffling.

Sam Coates of The Times,  the  political correspondent with probably the best sources in the Conservative party, reports  below the headline “DUP deal in danger”

Theresa May’s hopes of securing the support of the Democratic Unionist Party for her minority government were faltering last night as the Treasury dug in against the costs of a deal.

Some ministers were urging the prime minister to call the Northern Irish party’s bluff as negotiations stalled. Britain’s most senior civil servant, however, told the prime minister that she had little choice but to gain an agreement.

Without a breakthrough soon, the Queen’s Speech, the crucial test of a government’s viability, may have to be put back by a week from the intended date of this Monday to June 26, senior civil service sources said.

…, the Treasury has warned that higher spending in the province must normally go through the Barnett formula, requiring additional funds for England, Wales and Scotland as well. This makes funding projects in Northern Ireland very expensive, since for every £1 spent there, an additional £35 must be found for the other nations. Although the Barnett formula can be worked round — the government once gave funds direct to Glasgow city council — senior officials and Tory politicians warn that this could create imbalances and cause resentment in Scotland and England.

Some members of the government are worried about the consequences for the Conservatives’ reputation of doing a deal with the DUP. They believe that the DUP would never vote to put Jeremy Corbyn in Downing Street and that this, along with the Fixed-term Parliaments Act, means that they can risk not doing a deal and form a minority government. Sir Jeremy Heywood, the cabinet secretary, is understood to be strongly against this and is worried that the DUP might abstain in a vote.

Today Mrs May will meet Sinn Fein figures, including Gerry Adams, its leader, as well as the Ulster Unionists, the SDLP and the Alliance Party in separate engagements at Downing Street to address concerns about the consequences for the peace process.

Sinn Fein, the SDLP and the Alliance Party have made clear that James Brokenshire, the Northern Ireland secretary, cannot chair the process to restore power-sharing at Stormont because they believe he has a conflict of interest.

From Sebastian Payne in the FT. “No deal is better than a bad deal fore the Tories.”

There is growing disquiet among Conservative MPs that any kind of deal with the DUP will damage the party’s image in England, Scotland and Wales. Wounds are still being licked after the general election result and the Tories are aware of the need to reach out to centre-ground voters. Allying with the DUP could make that task even harder and further retoxify the Tories — as Sir John Major, the former prime minister, has pointed out.

So some Tories have concluded there should not be a deal. Every piece of legislation is going to be subject to haggling and horse-trading, so the argument goes, so tying the parties together in the eyes of voters is unnecessary. Mrs May could instead broker a private deal with the DUP to pass the Queen’s Speech — crucial to gaining confidence for a government — and then strike individual deals with minor parties (such as the Liberal Democrats) to pass other pieces of legislation. If Mrs May’s government makes it through to the autumn, a separate deal could be struck for the Budget.

If Labour attempts to topple the Tory government with a no-confidence vote, the Conservatives would call the DUP’s bluff: do they want to put Jeremy Corbyn, with a record of links with Irish republicans, into Downing Street? It’s hard to see Arlene Foster’s party siding with Labour, which gives the Conservatives some breathing space. It’s clearly anything but a strong and stable situation, but hung parliaments rarely are. But they can last longer than expected and the Conservatives will need to think about how they tackle the next election.


Just when  the massed ranks of  English newcomers to the story think they’ve started to  come to terms with  it,  if they read the Irish Times today, Newton will bamboozle them all over again with ” The next loyalist death lands at Downing St’s door”. They can console themselves by realising that the British government have no more of a clue than they have.

The Democratic Unionist Party has been stung by questions in Britain this week, about its relationship with the paramilitary Ulster Defence Association.

A serious problem during the early years of the peace process was that the DUP did not have close enough links to paramilitaries. It may have exploited loyalists, but it had neither the influence nor the inclination to bring them in from the cold.

The decades since have involved stumbling towards DUP leadership of loyalism by default, with the tacit support of other parties and the authorities. It may be two-faced, and too late, but it is no great mystery to anyone.

So imagine the novelty of finding this a UK-wide story. Something we are used to looking at askance is suddenly in the national spotlight, stripped of all nuance yet replete with detail that even Northern Ireland normally finds arcane.




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  • Reader

    BonaparteOCoonassa: He could easily have been fed wrong information which seemed reliable at the time.
    Well, we can wait and see whether he denounces his bad source or just keeps his head down for a bit. I expect he will take option 2.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    The EU is very far from perfect, but it still has some formal regulation of that Neo-Con, Neo-Lib economic world which the Conservative “leavers” wish to create for us all once they are given a free hand.

    And with the “nine out of ten poorest regions in northern Europe” already Britain’s boast while in the EU, I simply cannot imagine any improvement economically out of it. We have nothing but a “Finance Sector” built around brokering the world to the EU, and that will not survive anything but the Norway model. Greece, yes, perhaps, but Britain looks to be en route to becoming a similar watchword for its own personal version of the same Neo-Liberal nightmare without any help from Germany.

  • Jane

    Brexit isn’t a question of choosing your favourite components to make the perfect brexit. because every alternative to hard brexit comes at a cost.

    | suspect that there will be a trade off between UK giving the EU money and a no tariffs trade deal. It isn’t, after all, in their interests to introduce tariffs, because we are a net importer.

    I suspect that an awful lot of effort will be put into creating the best possible border with the ROI because the will is there on all sides, and that always helps.

    There might be a transition arrangement, that lasts for a few years.

    You can see that that the alternatives to a hard brexit are hard to pin down by the Labour manifesto, there search for a soft brexit ended it up with one very similar to May’s. I saw someone call it “Schrodinger’s brexit” which I thought was quite amusing.

    There has been a lot of posturing in the early stages, but there are so many areas where co-operation benefits both sides that a sensible will emerge eventually.

    On the issue of NI, with the Barnett formula any increase in spending there will increase spending in other parts of the UK. But also I tend to take the view that if there is a benefit to the economy of NI it’s a benefit to everyone, because there is a knock on benefit to other areas. I even think that if gdp growth in NI benefits ROI, it also benefits UK, and hopefully whatever deal there is will offset a bit the issues surrounding brexit.

    But we will see.


  • Sliothar

    Tvm. Good to see my standards aren’t slipping!
    Premises (licenced) already chosen for detention. Could be persuaded to spend longer!

  • Skibo

    Jane if you could post any link at all which forecasts a rise in GDP for NI following any kind of Brexit, I would be extremely interested.
    The issue of the Barnett formula is a difficult one. If the British Government actually put agricultural payments in place (which is doubtful) the Barnett formula will result in lower payments to the North and much larger payments to Scotland.

    The one major problem with finding an agreement that is positive to both sides is the EU has to make sure there is an element of pain for the UK, otherwise there will be nothing to prevent a further breakdown of the EU.

    Any tariff free deal is going to have to have some element of free movement of workers. the other thing is I believe the Norway deal does not include beverages or food but I am not sure on this. In the end Norway pays for access and obeys many of the EU rules yet has no say in it’s ruling.

  • grumpy oul man

    I do indeed. Currentally inhabited part time by a kid who we take for respite care.
    Have you any spare room. If you cant put up with the poor homeless there plenty of ex soldiers homeless that the Tories were happy to dump in the street when they were no more use to them.
    Maybe you woyld like to do your patriotic duty.
    Or you. could debate like a adult and cut out the cheap and pointless shots.

  • Jane

    That was increased NI gdp as result of good gov deal, not brexit.

    The desire of the EU to punish may be genuine, but I suspect it will subside as those EU countries that are most closely linked with UK economy, increase their influence in talks. Atm Merkel has been the loudest voice, but if she pursues this line there may be trouble in the EU camp. But the direction of travel of the UK economy with Osborne in control was unsustainable, there is opportunity to make sensible changes that have come from brexit, if we take them.

  • Skibo

    Any increase in spending in the North due to a deal with the DUP will have to be shared out over the UK as a whole. For every pound spent here, there would be a requirement for an extra 35 pounds to be spent as a whole. In the interests of austerity, the Tories cannot allow that to happen.
    I give this government six months before someone, most likely in the Tory party bring it down. The result will be any treats secured by the DUP will be cancelled and costs incurred reclaimed. For every action there will be an equal on opposite reaction. All that is in question is the time lag.
    Always remember the older generation’s attitude to such things, ” you get nothing for nothing in this world”
    That is a strange analysis as to economies closely linked to the UK. Germany would be the largest exporter of all the economies of the EU yet she speaks the loudest. What economies do you refer to other than Ireland where the UK represents 16% of their exports yet 24% of their imports?

  • Jane

    May will be removed, but it won’t be the end of government. Especially if it’s working.

    Denmark, Finland,Luxembourg, and Malta have a quite large share of jobs dependent on EU trade


    Poland and Spain would also want a good post brexit deal


    Those ones are just from memory, I could do some more googling if you want. However I think this has been argued out with neither of us changing our minds, but thank you for a very interesting discussion. I like having my very low level debating skills tested.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    We must get Mick to instigate the “double up vote”………