The DUP deal is nearly done. But they back a hard Brexit to thwart a customs border at the ports.

In the debate on the Queens speech Nigel Dodds, the DUP leader at Westminster gave a broad hint that a confidence and supply deal with the Conservatives will be concluded shortly.

But he also disabused us of  any notion that because the DUP favoured a “frictionless” border, it also meant they were supporting a version of a soft Brexit. The DUP is sticking with  their hard Brexit. Their reasoning is  essentially political, that the absence of customs checks in any form on the island of Ireland would mean customs barriers between Northern Ireland and Great Britain. This is  anathema to the DUP.

Meanwhile Jeffrey Donaldson has played down the  Daily Telegraph report that the DUP were demanding sweeteners of £2 Billion – or was it only £1 billion?  “Wide of the mark, ” he says.  One big problem at the Westminster end is the Barnett consequentials. If Northern Ireland gets more, more money, it follows that we raise the limits for Scotland Wales and English regions poorer than NI  to get more. more money too
The Daily Telegraph had earlier reported that the Democratic Unionist Party broke off talks with Theresa May this week as it told her to spend £2billion in Northern Ireland if she wants the party to prop up her minority Conservative Government.

The DUP demanded the cash – which works out as £1,100 per person in the Province – as talks veered dangerously close to breaking down altogether.

The talks became so strained in the past few days that the DUP negotiators in Belfast refused to pick up the phone to the Prime Minister’s team for 36 hours, The Daily Telegraph can disclose.

Westminster sources said they now hoped a “confidence and supply” deal could be agreed next week, days before Thursday’s key vote on the Queen’s Speech.

The £2billion demand – with £1billion spent on the National Health Service and £1billion on infrastructure – was made by the DUP this week.

The Telegraph story added the bizarre detail

It came as the DUP team decided not to answer their telephones for 36 hours to the Conservative team .

A source said: “They stopped answering their phones. It went on for 36 hours. Number 10 is putting in calls and they are not answering their phones.”

The concern is that these hard demands for cash will make it harder for the Tories and DUP to work together over the next five years.

The demand could cost the UK taxpayer billions more if any of the cash is judged to trigger spending elsewhere in the UK through the Barnett formula.

Typically £1 spent in the Province would require an additional £35 to be found for Scotland, England and Wales.

Gary Gibbon of Channel 4 News, who’s a rare Westminster journalist taking an interest in Northern Ireland, said he didn’t expect the deal to be completed this week.

 Here is most of Nigel Dodd’s speech

Strengthening the Union—our precious Union, as the Prime Minister has rightly called it—must be the overarching aim of this Government. The case for the Union is a positive one. It is one that finds increasing favour in Northern Ireland, across the community divide, as has been illustrated by recent opinion polls and surveys.

The country as a whole has voted for Brexit, and this Parliament must now deliver it. Attempts to undermine or subvert the democratic decision made in the referendum would be catastrophic. We must get on with carrying out the people’s wishes. I welcome the priority that has been given by both the United Kingdom Government and European Union negotiators to finding sensible outcomes to the challenges that face Northern Ireland, particularly the issue of the land frontier with the Irish Republic. That shows, I believe, that despite all the rhetoric, people are up for finding sensible and pragmatic solutions.

We have, of course, heard some debate today about membership of the single market and the customs union, and we have heard talk about special status for Northern Ireland within the European Union.

Let me make this very clear. I believe that when people voted, in the European Union referendum, to leave the European Union, they voted to leave the single market and the customs union, and I believe that Northern Ireland, along with the rest of the United Kingdom, must do likewise. We must not find ourselves allowing borders to be erected between the island of Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom; that would be totally unacceptable. We must be imaginative, flexible and pragmatic in ensuring that there is an open border, as frictionless as possible, between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic. There are ways—sensible ways that have already been discussed—of ensuring that that can be made to happen, and it is in the interests of the Irish Republic and the European Union, as well as those of the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland, to make it happen.

The great advantage with which we start is that everyone is saying that—apart from, I have to say, Sinn Féin, which is calling for special status within the EU for Northern Ireland. That has not been adopted or accepted by the new Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, by any of the parties in the Irish Republic, or by the EU negotiators. Everyone accepts that Northern Ireland’s priorities in relation to the land frontier must also be at the top of the negotiating priorities…

In meeting the challenge of Brexit, how much stronger Northern Ireland would be if we were able to get the Northern Ireland Executive up and running as quickly as possible. If we cannot restore the Executive, we will ensure in the House of Commons, working closely with Ministers, that Northern Ireland’s voice is heard and our interests are protected. What we want is the return of an inclusive Government with everyone involved in drawing up what should happen, together. That makes sense. That is the positive, sensible way forward. It makes no sense for people to say, “We are not going to take our seats at Westminster; we have brought down the Executive, and we are not going to get it up and running again”, and then to complain about what is happening. That is simply not logical.

The economic outlook for Northern Ireland would, of course, be much easier to predict if there were stable government in Belfast, and that doubtless applies here as well. The electorate sent politicians a very clear message about austerity, and since the election it has become clear that they must listen to what the people have said. I must say that I was very taken with the election slogan adopted by the right hon. Member for Wokingham: “Prosperity, not austerity”, and I was glad to hear from the Chancellor at the weekend that he was not deaf to what had been said. For our part, we will again work with the Government over this Parliament to ensure that we deliver prosperity, that we deliver greater spending on health and education, and that we see an end to the dark tunnel of austerity.



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  • Marcus Orr

    Then why did you refer to EU(SSR) above then?
    3rd time I’ve corrected you…

  • MainlandUlsterman

    NI people, as the region being singled out for different treatment.

  • Hugh Davison

    OH. When was that, then (mass democracy)?

  • BonaparteOCoonassa

    A factually incorrect statement.

  • BonaparteOCoonassa

    Ah, you’re having a laugh now.

  • Fick Mealty

    Startling analysis, much the same as a fellow called Zeno on Slugger 2 years ago! Mind, he left the blog after the ridicule heaped upon him for his dodgy numbers, and humorous “some of my best friends are Roman Catholics” comments.

    Similar here – the claim that since SF have come to power support for a UI has plummeted is, as always, stupid. Polling and surveying in the UK has proven to be a complete and utter joke over the last 30 years – from the USA have featured several articles on the topic. Essentially the only poll that counts is the one on election day that counts actual votes.

    And in the most recent election 42% of those who voted supported parties that explicitly said they want a plan for a United Ireland. 49% voted for parties that explicitly want to remain within the UK. The gap between those two voting blocks in terms of voters dropped from a 65k lead for Unionist parties in 2015 to a 59k lead for Unionist parties in 2017.

    The problems you mention, may or may not be SFs fault, they may be a legacy of Unionist rule, it is essentially immaterial. Catholics have just elected 7 SF MPs. Thats the fact, they disagree with you on who is to blame. And that is what matters.


    Given that the number one Brexit priority for the Conservatives is controlling immigration to Britain I think it is highly unlikely that there won’t be identity checks at the ports. Even with a hard land border I’d imagine there will be ID checks at the Irish Sea because any land border will be porous, the weak link in Britain’s defences. The DUP will have to go along with it for the greater good of British security. They will end up having to sell it to their own constituents as their patriotic duty, the price of Brexit. Any immigrant wanting to get into Britain knowing they won’t be checked at the NI ports will find a way to cross the border from the ROI into NI even if there is a Berlin Wall built along it. Checks at the ports will be the price of Brexit one way or another.


    The DUP really don’t know what they’re talking about and it’s probably unsurprising they have been unable to strike a deal with the Tories. The two parties exist in two completely different realities.

    Any immigrant wanting to get into Britain knowing they won’t be checked at the NI ports will find a way to cross the border from the ROI into NI even if there is a Berlin Wall built along it. It will always be porous, the weak link in Britain’s defence, and given the number one priority for the Conservatives around Brexit is immigration control, reiterated again today by Theresa May, it is almost inconceivable there won’t be ID checks at the Irish Sea for British Ulster people travelling to Scotland, England or Wales.

    The DUP will have to go along with this or be seen to represent a threat to Britain’s security, further alienating NI from mainstream British affairs. Checks at the ports will be the price of Brexit one way or another.

    I don’t know what’s holding up the DUP-Tory deal but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was the pragmatics around this issue. The Tories can’t make a blanket promise about not imposing checks at the Irish Sea and they know it. The two parties are mutually incompatible on the core security and immigration issue.

  • Timothyhound

    I think that the prospect of having to implement border controls spooks Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael well beyond border counties. The southern electorate may appear indifferent at times to NI but most recognize the value of effective normality. The prospect of any physical sign of the border is deeply problematic – whether the DUP or Conservatives get that is doubtful.

  • Mike the First

    He didn’t say “break the bastards with equality”.

    He said “use equality as a Trojan horse to break the bastards”.

    The Trojan horse was not what it purported to be; neither is Adams’s “equality”.

  • Mike the First

    Victory 74!

  • Marcus Orr

    “Marcus you completely failed the democratic principle that the Liberals and the IPP were the Government of the land”
    The Liberals and the IPP (the IPP elected by Irishmen from almost completely the South of the Island) were the govt. in the UK at that time. In what sense may you then claim that the nation (in 1918) was Ireland ?!
    I’m not trying to mess you around, I’m just being honest in pointing out the situation as it was in 1918. Not so simple and clear cut as many nationalists/republicans claim on this site, far from it. I’m as Irish as Molly Molone, with my Greatgreat-grandparents (and much, much further back) from Belfast , Dublin and Cork. But we were Irish unionists, with complete affinity to the United Kingdom. So there’s that.
    I think the time has come to climb down and find a solution for the North, especially because the South has become a truly modern state, forward looking, and no longer mired in the past. But for that there has to be some recognition from nationalist/republican side that the “planters” are truly Irish, and have the right to their point of view, even if they are in the minority. A little bit of give and take from everybody would go a long way. I freely admit that the DUP as well have more than boxed themselves into a corner on this debate.

  • Georfe Jungle

    Whaaaaaaaaaa ???

    Utterly, utterly stupid comment

  • Georfe Jungle

    1) Soft Brexit was invented by remoaners, 80% Of the British Electorate voted for parties which agree to respect the referendum and leave the EU which means leaving the single market

    2) Canada has everything to do with it.

  • NewSouthernMan

    What about security? Will the mainland UK be OK with a porous 500km land border?

    Or a easily controlled checkpoints at harbors and airports?

    If you were trying to stop Islamimaniacs from entering “Britain”, which would you prefer?

  • eamoncorbett

    The context I was referring to was , within NI you have 2 main groupings represented by 2 completely different parties with 2 seperate visions of the future . In the South most if not all recognise the legitimacy of the state and politics is centred around economic and social issues .
    Right now the UK is seriously disjointed in political terms with division and rancour rife in the corridors of power .
    As for the nationalist perspective, it’s a mirror image of the Unionist perspective , confrontational and unyielding.
    Some Republicans talk about British withdrawal , if you ask me , we’re witnessing a British and Irish withdrawal that will only result in the old protagonists slugging it out on the hill rehashing the old quarrels on their own .

  • Dónall

    But people voted to leave the EU not the single market. So obviously there is room to manoeuvre. baby bath water and all that.

  • DaptoDogs

    It is not that strange to argue for a restriction on the number of changes effected during a period where change is unavoidable. The argument has a long pedigree. Its most relevant iteration likely being Burke’s ‘Reflections
    on the Revolution in France: The proceedings in certain societies in London relative to that event: in a letter intended to have been sent to a Gentleman in Paris.’, which is itself fundamental to British politics and legal theory. Partition as part of decolonisation added complexities. As a mode of decolonisation, where it has been tried, partition has a poor record. We’re not terminally unique. Hence, I’m not arguing for Solution A over Solution B because what happened was Solution A was rejected for Solution BB. Slow managed change with a preference for subsidiarity generally provides better outcomes to a greater rewriting/redefinition of terms. Home Rule was disestablished after the radicalism of 1798, returning to that would have been a more conservative stable approach than the capitulation to the radicalism of 1912.

  • DaptoDogs

    Cognitive dissonance is a likely answer

  • chrisjones2

    Didnt you realise that was the subtext to RHI?

    And you think the DUP arent strategic

  • chrisjones2

    Errrr the overall trade figures are UK sells about £220bn to EU and buys back over £290bn …. its a net inflow to the UK at around £65bn

    As far as beef pork and especially diary goes, if we go to WTO terms UK Produced goods will have a 20% to 45% price advantage but exports to the EU will be similarly disadvantaged But the UK is a net importer of food at present – we buy in about 40% of our food and that is increasing year on year A large percentage of that already comes from outside the EU but there is a huge opportunity for NI if the EU is stupid enough to fail to agree a sensible deal

  • grumpy oul man

    I posted a link for you earlier which deal with all that and predicts the results of Brexit on farms, it was from that famous liberal pinko crowd called the Farmers Union.
    they seen to disagree with you.
    foolish of them believing there own experts (worse than scientists for disagree with you those experts ) i know but they are very concerned about brexit.
    If you don’t mind ill stick to accepting the analysis of the people in the farming business,

  • chrisjones2

    They are mainly concerned to preserve subsidies

  • chrisjones2

    Of course this was all the fault of the Unionists. There was never any sedition, attempts to provoke civil war or insurrection in the 1920s 30s 40s or 50s and the Republic always maintained such benign relationships with the North

    By the way, can you remind me, what was the % of the Republic’s population that was protestant in 1922 and say 1980?

  • chrisjones2

    In that case I assume you are happy to grant full immunity to any members of HM forces accused of crimes in the same way that this was given to OTRs in the secret deal with SF on get out of gaol free letters and Royal Prerogatives …that would be equality wouldn’t it

  • chrisjones2

    “I have never seen the B@st@rds comment to represent all of Unionism but rather the Gregorys and the Sammys.”

    So it only applies to the wrong kind of Unionists

  • chrisjones2

    I love all the quasi-racist protectionism and anti-Chinese sentiment. If the milk is good I dont really care where it comes from

  • chrisjones2

    …and a very special person to see it as a Trojan Horse that could be used that way …but Gerry is very special isnt he

  • chrisjones2

    Lets start with an Irish Language act with a demand that jobs be reserved exclusively for Irish Language speakers?

  • chrisjones2


  • chrisjones2

    …and your problem with that is?

  • chrisjones2

    Isnt it great that the English taught Irish people the universal language of ENglish as without that factor they wouldnt have had such economic success in selling their services

    And isn’t it notable that given free choice and despite all the money poured into Irish in the Republic the number of active speakers who see it as their main language has fallen to around 70000 or around 1.5% far behind Polish at 150000 and with French closing fast at 55000

  • chrisjones2

    ” politics is centred around economic and social issues .”

    Really? Can you point out the differences?

    I see as still about who supported / did not support the treaty followed by a combination of family ties, intermarriage and what school people went to

  • chrisjones2

    It benefits the whole of the Uk …that is what matters

  • chrisjones2

    No we have a military covenant and it should be applied

  • Skibo

    No WE do not have a military covenant. That is a devolved matter and needs to be agreed. It should not be linked to an Irish Language act either.
    if you wanted to link it to something then stick it into the Bill of Rights that was promised in the GFA. Either way, services should be distributed on a basis of need.

  • Paul Dunne

    I’m not to sure which side your ancestry was on judging by your surname,they could have been unionists?