Up to a billion victims’ compensation and Irish border talks from tomorrow. Leaks on the DUP deal

The Sun has run a couple of “scoops” about a DUP deal that will cause more than a flicker of interest if true. To me they read like Downing St  blandishments  to the DUP to fulfil their part of the bargain and confirm  wider  support for the government  than for Wednesday’s vote on the Queen’s Speech. Whether the now all-powerful Chancellor will sign off on shaking the  money tree quite so hard for the sake of the  deal to consolidate the Conservatives in  office is a different question.

BRITAIN chalked up its first victory in its battle for a decent Brexit deal – hours before crunch talks begin.

EU chiefs caved in to David Davis’s demands that the Northern Ireland border is made a priority issue.

They had insisted on holding it back as a bargaining chip for later on in the negotiations.

But the Brexit Secretary backed them into a corner and they have now agreed it will be up for discussion when talks kick off tomorrow.

David Davis is keen for a deal that avoids a return to checkpoints along the 310-mile border between the north and the Irish Republic.

he European Commission were desperate to keep it off the table because it would involve discussions on trade and customs.

But a last-ditch climbdown means it will top the agenda along with the divorce bill and the rights of EU and British citizens after Brexit.

A Whitehall source said last night: “This is a clear sign that the Commission has caved in to our highly determined negotiators who have been supported throughout by the Irish.

“The Prime Minister has always been clear that this was an early priority for us from the start so we’ve made this a red-line issue for us in preparing for this negotiation.”

The Irish border was of course already an EU priority so it’s not clear how much of  a promotion this means

But today’ Sun “Exclusive” while very welcome to many would be a whole more controversial as it appears to breach Sinn Fein’s stand on “ no hierarchy of victims” for extra compensation

VICTIMS of IRA terror attacks could get millions of pounds in compensation as part of a deal to keep Theresa May in power.

The PM is being urged to fork out up to £1billion in return for Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party propping her up. At least 300 families of people killed or maimed in Libyan-sponsored atrocities have been denied justice – despite millions being handed to American, French and German victims.

But DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds is demanding a pledge that payouts will be made within two years if his MPs agree to vote with the Tories.

One reason for the delay in Mrs May winning the party’s support is down to efforts to thrash out a compensation plan.

.  Bob Fisk  who  forty-odd years ago was the Times’ excellent correspondent in Belfast and is now the Cassandra of Middle East politics for the Independent relies more on his knowledge of the old days and Irish history to attack the DUP deal, based on cynicism on both sides. Like so many he’s transfixed by the DUP’s poor image of unionist populism and conservative social opinions.   You grasp his point  about the DUPs’ terrible image but Fisk’s denunciation doesn’t show much knowledge of what’s actually going on here. If he took the trouble to read the Irish News and  the Guardian -no  fans of the DUP —, a DUP deal at Westminster looks like putting pressure on Sinn Fein to return to Stormont and  further stem austerity in a way Labour would love but haven’t the clout to achieve.  Remarkably Fisk’s analysis leaves out entirely what’s been going on in power sharing for almost 20 years.

In parliament, May will have to justify her alliance with this disreputable crew – and put the Good Friday agreement in serious danger – by reminding us of the fruits of Ulster’s “loyalty” (I suspect we may have Belfast’s patriotism in the Second World War trotted out). It will be a sorry business, lasting only so long as Arlene Foster and her Protestant party can be of use to her.

The Catholics of Northern Ireland will have no say in this. They chose abstentionism and thus cut themselves out of the parliamentary debates. But who in Sinn Fein would ever vote for May’s Government? It’s going to be cash for the province’s Democratic Unionists all the way.

“The Catholics” may not hold the initiative   for a moment  but they will have plenty of “say” on the distribution of goodies if they return to the Assembly.

 Dominic Lawson in the Sunday Times,  who’s a rare dipper into our affairs and  is much happier with Tory austerity politics, gives the DUP  grudging credit for leading a race to abandon austerity. Sinn Fein readers please note how  the DUP are coming close to their view of welfare  when they deadlocked the Assembly on welfare reform for a year – even though this aspect of austerity was itself  mitigated.

There are no more successful shakers of the magic money tree than Northern Ireland’s politicians. Figures released by the Office for National Statistics last month showed that while Scotland consumed £2,824 more in public expenditure per capita than it raised in taxes — a source of irritation to the English — the average inhabitant of Northern Ireland consumed £5,437 more public money than they paid in taxes. There has been a payment from London to Ulster of about £10bn in each of the past three years, slightly more than the UK as a whole has been paying — net — to the EU.

Obviously, the latter is to foreign countries, while the colossal transfers across the Irish Sea are to poorer fellow countrymen and women, with all the demands of solidarity that status entails. But it is quite a racket.

Nicholas Macpherson, the permanent secretary to the Treasury under three chancellors (Messrs Brown, Darling and Osborne). He criticised Jeremy Corbyn’s remark that people “have had quite enough of austerity politics” and explained that Osborne’s “trick” as chancellor was “to talk tough while putting into practice a programme which was admirably pragmatic and flexible . . . Whereas Ireland managed to reduce its gross public debt from 86% to 75% of national income between 2010 and 2016, Britain’s public debt carried on rising: from 76% to 89%. In short, Britain never experienced austerity.”

Few want to hear that now. They certainly didn’t want to hear Mrs May tell us that better-off pensioners should do their bit to reduce the deficit (the government is still spending £1bn a week more than it raises in taxes). The Conservative election manifesto is now less relevant than that of the DUP. The triple lock on pensions will stay. The winter fuel allowance will not be means-tested.

It seems  soft austerity of the sort approved by the DUP is one of the reasons  the DUP deal is being held up by the Treasury In interviews today the Chancellor Phillip Hammond was reluctant to shake the magic money  tree too hard.

The chancellor said he had already “created more flexibility” by loosening George Osborne’s deficit-reduction target.

He said he understood people were tired of the “long slog” of spending cuts, but added: “We have to live within our means and more borrowing… is not the solution.”

“We have never said we won’t raise some taxes,” he said, but added that overall the government wanted to keep them low.

The government’s plan remained to clear the deficit by the middle of the next Parliament “in a way that’s sensitive to the needs of the economy”,

 

 

 

 

 

  • Neil

    Is this the definition of fake news?

    BRITAIN chalked up its first victory in its battle for a decent Brexit deal – hours before crunch talks begin.

    EU chiefs caved in to David Davis’s demands that the Northern Ireland border is made a priority issue.

    I thought that the government was demanding that the divorce bill and talks on future relations would occur in parallel, and the EU were demanding that the divorce bill would be dealt with first? Further to that the border issue was among the items the EU sought to deal with as a priority. So the Sun is effectively calling an utter defeat for the government in the opening salvos as a stunning victory.

  • JOHN TURLEY

    Lord Ha Ha in his prime could not have done it better.Listening to Philip Hammond today he also
    seems to be reading from the same propaganda sheet.The EU people are well aware that Mrs May
    did not get her 100 seat majority,.they are laughing at her.not raising a white flag.

  • BonaparteOCoonassa

    Is this some kind of joke? The quotes from the Sun actually reverse the truth. It was the EU who made it a condition that Irish border talks be one of the first items to be settled. And so on though each of these outright lies. What’s the point of quoting such propaganda here?

  • aquifer

    Yep Gotcha Faketastic http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/05/11/no-return-hard-border-ireland-brexit-eu-chief-negotiator-says/

    Macron, a politician that actually has a mandate, says the ‘door is still open’ – to abandoning Brexit. A welcome intrusion to interrupt our collective delusion.

    Austerity the hoax is when Tories try to patronise us by assuming we do not know the difference between corner shop bookkeeping and economics.

    Taken together, the two are an attempted coup d’etat by ignorant Tory carpet chewers and their rich backers.

  • Korhomme

    I understood that the EU wanted three items to be discussed first; the size of the divorce bill, how much the UK has to pay to leave; the position of EU subjects within the UK, and the position of UK subjects in the EU; and the Irish problem, specifically the border. They did not want to start talks on a trade deal before sufficient progress had been made on these issues.

  • james

    Compensation for IRA victims should come from Sinn Fein, surely?

  • the rich get richer

    The Dupers are a very expensive Luxury item……….

    Are they worth it ? ?

    High maintenance and not a whole lot of crack…….

  • eamoncorbett

    The idea that the DUP will be framing Conservative party policy is nothing short of ludicrous, yes there will be a basket of goodies in the first few months but after that reality will bite and Dodds will be told it’s either us or Jeremy , you chose .
    I’ll bet top Tory strategists are already plotting the sidelining of the DUP to curb their influence. It’s despicable that the DUP favour leaving the single market and customs union, do they have any sympathy for small exporters who would like the same access to the EU as their counterparts in the Republic.

  • BonaparteOCoonassa

    Surely they have suppliers for the ‘crack’?

  • JOHN TURLEY

    Very disappointing for new Taoiseach Leo to hear that Arlene will be supporting the Tories
    in their exit from the single market and the customs union.

  • aquifer

    The divorce bill has to be big enough to deter les autres, so Dave brace yourself for a financial flagellation. A Tory boy should be able to grin and bear it, the chancellor smile wanely and borrow it, the foreign secretary claim it as price worth paying. this down payment on despair.

  • hugh mccloy

    Stormont has been one sweetie after another to appease political parties, what the difference now ?

    SF’s success has made them more irrelevant than ever in political terms, but thats hat happens when you have a party that wants power but no responsibility

  • Brian Kann

    A news “exclusive” fit for Airstrip One isn’t it. Is it any wonder people are fed up with the lies and manipulation that English tabloids increasingly stand for. It’s not like this is not known. Alternatively, its very easy to look this stuff up on the commision’s shiny and user friendly website in minutes. Even if this is somehow news to the Sun: is it acceptable for a political story in leading national newspaper to be ignorant of the Commision’s priority points that were published only a few weeks ago? And do they seriously expect people to believe tge EU woild change its already openly-published negotiating stance 24 hrs before tslks begin because the UK says so? Must be true mind, if a “Whitehall source” says so.

    The jingoistic undertones are just as ridiculous. Well be having David Davis as the “Lion of Brussels” next.

    Surprised at Slugger stooping to the depths here..

  • LiamÓhÉ

    It’s probably all ‘fake neeeeews’ here but even so there is something pathetic about the notion of DUPpers cashing in on their victimhood like a bunch of itinerant gypsies in Westminster. How they do not feel demeaned by such begging bowl politics? Infrastructure and education I could understand….

  • LiamÓhÉ

    Yes, the Brexit factions in GB and NI are completely deranged. Currency going down the toilet, economy is shrinking, diplomatic relations seriously damaged. But sure we know all this and yet on it goes. Ireland will be sharing an island and archipelago with a third-world economy seeking bailouts and handouts.

  • the keep

    They seem to be copying SF.

  • the keep

    Third world economy you must be the person who writes SF`s economic plans.

  • LiamÓhÉ

    Perhaps they are, it seems the culture of dependency is common to both communities.

  • lizmcneill

    I thought the DUP had started to backpedal on the hard Brexit as reality bit, but noooo. Where’s their mandate for a hard border? What do they imagine is going to happen to the agricultural industry?

  • chrisjones2

    You seem to have forgotten the PMs line on the border from Day 1

  • chrisjones2

    We will let them off with a small bill for access to our markets

  • chrisjones2

    Yest another new ID but this one uses comparing people to gypsies is a term of abuse

    Classy in every way

  • Reader

    lizmcneill: Where’s their mandate for a hard border?
    They don’t want a hard border. (DUP Westminster manifesto, page #19 point #7)

  • lizmcneill

    How do you have a hard Brexit without a hard border?

  • aquifer
  • BonaparteOCoonassa

    Are you actually saying that the ‘PM’ had actual policies, or ‘lines’? That would be an astounding first for her. (Apart from her policy of putting the tory party first and last every time).

  • BonaparteOCoonassa

    Reeking of desperation there, Chris.

  • Reader

    lizmcneill: How do you have a hard Brexit without a hard border?
    By having free trade. The EU is about many other things relating to law and government, most of which would not require customs posts or checkpoints.
    Developed economies under the rule of law scarcely require such border posts – free trade (along with the Common Travel Area) is the final piece of the jigsaw.
    However, if you think the EU is going to be awkward, then there is always the ‘Irish special case’ option – oft mooted by nationalists – to fall back on.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Not something for these talks, but in terms of victim compensation clearly the bulk of that should come from the Republican Movement and Loyalist organisations. No doubt they can’t afford to pay it all but it’s only right that they make payments to victims until they go bankrupt and the state can take over from there. Presumably SF has the funds set aside for this purpose, so let’s get on with transferring it to a Victims’ Fund ready for distribution once we have arrangements for that agreed. If SF, the UDA etc aren’t paying out voluntarily, we’ll need to look at the freezing and seizing of assets.

    At the very least we need to get this process much further up the agenda, it is not something we can ignore forever. As Hilary Mantel said in her recent Reith Lecture, “The dead are invisible. They are not absent.”

  • lizmcneill

    The UK would need to negotiate a free trade deal. It may not include all goods (eg agri-food) and it might take years while the NI economy collapses in the meantime.

    The special case veto’d by the DUP?