The DUP should lift their veto. This could still be win:win all round


New version with new information

 Hands up those of you were surprised by the DUP veto? Honestly now. OK you got it right tonight at any rate.

.No one has  ever won a prize for discovering  their YES gene.

I admit  I thought May and Juncker would have squeaked through with words that made a clear enough distinction between continuing membership of the customs union and a  proposed parallel  customs arrangement for NI. Call it “regulatory alignment” if you like,  rather than “no divergence”.

More has emerged about the stalled deal with doubtless more to come.

It would  protect farmers, energy prices and transport links and is capable of expansion, depending on the consent of  the NI parties, including of course  the DUP.

“Regulatory alignment ” leaves harmonisation of these matters in British hands.  That, it was thought, should have satisfied the DUP’s insistence on no divergence from the rest of the UK.

It actually anticipates Ireland’s and the Remainers’ dream of a soft Brexit with a parallel customs agreement between the EU and the UK..


Key part of the agreement text quoted in the Irish Times.

“The UK remains committed to protecting N-S cooperation and a guarantee of avoiding a hard border  The UK’s intention is to achieve these objectives through the overall EU-UK relationship.

Should this not be possible, the UK will propose specific solutions to address the unique circumstances of the island of Ireland. In the abscence of agreed solutions, the UK will maintain full alignment with the internal market, customs union and pritection of the Good Friday Agreement”.

This is very strong stuff, a far greater concession than I expected the British government to write down at this stage. And there’s more. It also appears to set the aim of achieving a soft Brexit in the trade negotiations to come.

Tbis is what the DUP are presently vetoing.

It will of course enflame the militant Brexiters and raise the awkward question of why the DUP weren’t squared in advance.

So would it require the DUP’s anathema, an economic border between NI and GB? Say it quietly, but this would not be favoured by Irish business either. It is the burning question that has to be urgently addressed.

Fool that I am, I haven’t quite given up hope.

The DUP’s nervous self regard may be infuriating but that is no reason to undersestimate them.

Were they consulted at all during the last stage of the negotiations?

Not  much if at all, if Foster was moved to call May, interrupting her fateful lunch with Juncker.

What did May expect? Either she thought she had them on board and was deceived; or she reckoned on toughing it out and facing them down to become an even more reviled minority among the Commons majority.

And yet May says she will “reconconvene in Brussels before the end of the week and conclude this positively”.

That looks like a very bold claim. Let’s hope it turns out to be justified.

The  DUP have never been in a stronger tactical position. If you listen hard, you might even pick up echoes of the Ulster Unionists of 1912 during fhe Home Rule crisis. This does not mean they have a grasp on the right strategy.

But Conservative Brexiters are flocking to their standard.

The government’s Brexit strategy looks like unravelling if May is humiliated by Friday. Either she can persuade the DUP to back down or she appeals to the Commons as a whole to back her strategy and risk a split within the Conservative party much earlier than she might have expected.

The DUP needs her personal attention over the next few days. A lot hangs on it.








  • Highfield

    So you want to be connected to a nation who dont want you……….

  • Michael Dowds

    What would the ‘modern’ in ‘modern free trade agreement’ mean exactly?

    You’re not wrong about the proxy war (IMHO), but it makes no sense to ignore the NI/RoI/GFA aspects and the very real impact that third country status will have (on the UK as a whole and NI in particular).

  • MainlandUlsterman

    no, it’s more that we don’t rely on what people elsewhere think. Self-determination mean we decide, ourselves. All we need is for that to be accepted, which the GFA locks everyone, including mainland UK parties, into.

    We go through periods of being more unpopular than at other times. Meh. We’re not going anywhere.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    governments override the wishes of the public all the time in a parliamentary democracy. It’s statistically inevitable that will happen a lot.

    On this though, the wishes of the public in the referendum for the UK to leave the EU are being respected, because the referendum was set up as one where the result had to be actioned – that can’t be overridden politically without a second referendum. We are leaving.

    But as to how we leave? Really people voted for all sorts of reasons. There was no Leave manifesto here that people approved, just the question on the ballot paper – leave or remain. Everything else is for debate and politics in parliament.

    We’ve had an election since and now have a post-Brexit House of Commons, which also represents the will of the people. It is there that the manner of leaving should be hammered out.

  • Food First

    Exelent peice 100% correct their were several votes in Parliament yesterday the Government had confertable majorities in all. the D U P are acting in the interests of the U K Government & should be appreciated

  • Ben De Hellenbacque

    It’s not that unusual. When there was an earthquake centred around the Abruzzo town of Aquila I never heard such variation in mispronunciation by broadcast journalists. My favourite was Aquila sounded like ‘A killer.’
    Remember how the Greek political party, Syriza was pronounced as if it was an Italian word.

  • runnymede

    What do you want? Signed confessions? Not likely I’m afraid.

  • runnymede

    This is nonsense. Parliament expressly delegated this decision to the voters, it can’t then go back on that. Think what you are saying.

    Your post is just repeating the same fraudulent mantra, essentially that parliament can claim black is in fact white and get away with it. It can’t.

  • lizmcneill

    Wouldn’t it have to include regulatory alignment in the sectors that are part of the agreement?

  • Michael Dowds

    Dunno, hence the question.

    We’ll have to wait to see whether Runnymede sees fit to elaborate on the use of the word ‘modern’.

    I’ve asked them to elaborate on some of their statements before. I’m still awaiting a response.

    Perhaps they deem my queries too humble to respond to. Perhaps they just don’t have a response.

  • runnymede

    By modern I would mean something along the lines of the Canada-EU or Australia-NZ deals which would include chapters on customs cooperation and regulatory cooperation (but note, not harmonisation in either case).

    Let’s be quite clear about this though – a deal like that will involve a hardening of the border. It’s a question of how much. With sensible cooperation the extra frictions can be moderate, without it they become more troublesome.

  • sparrow

    Something, anything at all, to back up your assertion. You talk about behaviour. What behaviour and by whom? Point out where I can see it. As for : ‘I know some of them’ – that doesn’t cut it at all, I’m afraid. I know some too and, very conveniently, they back up my argument and totally refute yours. Where does that leave us?

  • Michael Dowds

    ‘Let’s be quite clear about this though – a deal like that will involve a hardening of the border.’

    Your honesty is appreciated. It’s more than most ‘Brexiteers’ will concede.

    Given that Canadian producers have to satisfy EU regulations (without exception) and (for agricultural products at least), compliance must be checked at the border, your indifference to the impact on NI is sad.

  • Dotard Jon Trump

    Let’s hope Arlene is over every jot and tittle of this issue. It’s worth asking the question, what are they trying to achieve? Do they want a hard land border? Do they want the whole UK to stay in the Customs Union? If the latter, what is the point of leaving the EU?

    In the end, it all comes down to them feeling NI is a bit more British than it was yesterday, or at the least a bit less Irish. Everything else is just jots and tittles. Economic damage? Who cares. Farm subsidies massively reduced? Not our problem. Damage to the peace process? We never supported it anyway.

  • Dotard Jon Trump

    Nonsense. The UK is trying to have no border with the EU while simultaneously leaving the Single Market and Customs Union. The EU has called bullsh** on this, and rightly so.

  • Dotard Jon Trump

    You’re looking at it through the wrong end of the telescope. Brexiters are trying to implement the impossible promises they made to voters, that it was possible to have the cake and also eat the cake. Anyone who points out the obvious, that choices have to be made between the having and the eating, are accused of being ‘saboteurs’.

  • Reader

    sparrow: Then surely the way to make sure the wording becomes meaningless is to secure a trade deal, yet the DUP decide to block any movement to discuss trade?
    It’s the EU that is refusing to discuss trade.

  • Reader

    Korhomme: Belfast and Limerick are at least in two separate polities.
    ” Politie” possibly isn’t the best word you could have chosen – the NI Assembly has a different form from the Scottish parliament, for instance. In that context, polities are “different” from each other rather than “separate”
    But I think you know that is also beside the point – “British” is at least as open and flexible term as “Irish”.
    So, as for my question, here it is again – is Belfast as Irish as Limerick?

  • Reader

    Paddy Reilly: The DUP are executing a move familiar from the film ‘Blazing Saddles’
    Bart is a smart guy, isn’t he? Vilified by the townsfolk but never gives up and eventually delivers for the greater good.
    There are contexts where that clip would have worked out for you. This wasn’t one of them.

  • runnymede

    The UK is not seeking to have no border with the EU, just a light touch one.

  • runnymede

    NI’s agrifood trade E-W is much more important than the N-S flows. As I’ve said repeatedly there will need to be adjustments here, there’s no getting away from that. But this is a regional/sectoral issue and can be smoothed with appropriate dollops of cash.

  • Dotard Jon Trump

    An invisible border. The Emperor’s New Border, if you like.

  • lizmcneill

    Why? If Scotland, Wales and London are asking to stay in the Customs Union, where’s the mandate to leave?

  • lizmcneill

    And what happens to NI’s agrifood trade if the UK decides to lower its standards and bring in cheap chlorine chicken and hormone beef? Without any hope of increasing their N-S trade because it’s diverged?

  • sparrow

    Wha’?? The EU, the Irish and the British government had all agreed to move on to trade discussions yesterday. It was Arlene’s intervention that put the brake on trade talks.

  • Kevin Breslin

    No clarity either.

  • Korhomme

    I’d say no. Limerick is Irish, with perhaps the tiniest bit of the Ascendancy; Belfast is a mixture of English, Scottish and Irish — Northern Irish if you prefer. Similar, not identical. But then Belfast isn’t the same as, say, Derry/Londonderry is it?

  • Kevin Breslin

    The fundamental is the problem is EVEL Englishmen and Little Ulstermen can’t have their precious union and their mini-fiefdoms. Something has to give or these opponents of the European Union will destroy their United Kingdom Union too.

    What does equal part of a union really mean these days … Each part of the UK gets a say like Northern Ireland, or majoritarianism does what’s best for the nation as a whole, which means screw Northern Ireland.

    The Brexiteers are giving a great example in the behaviour as to what a dysfunctional political union looks like.

    They need to look at themselves, the Irish government was better at getting 26 nations on their side and having a single national policy backed by its Parliament.

    The mighty UK does not share a single resolve when it comes to Brexit, except perhaps “flags and flatulence”.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Self determination does not seem to apply to our local remain vote. Does it only apply when it is a Unionist issue, MU?

  • Michael Dowds

    E/W trade comprises a (significantly) larger portion of NI’s external sales than does NI-EU. Protection of that ‘trade’ is a given.

    The concern (and i haven’t seen any quantitative analysis on this) is the integrated nature of the agrifood sector on the Island of Ireland and the impact of Brexit on the home market (i.e. NI) due to wholesale sectoral disruption. Obviously similar concerns would apply to the other ‘all-island’ sectors.

    As I indicated above, the new barriers that will be created have allowed a new betrayal narrative to develop for Irish nationalism. As someone from a (broadly) pro-UI position, this isn’t a particular issue for me. However, as a person in their early 30s, with a young family, I have larger concerns than being pro-UI, namely job security (and physical safety). The instability that has now been created by the new betrayal narrative will be (I think) enduring and corrosive. I suspect, like many of my age group, I will be long in forgiving the callous indifference displayed by those pursuing this ideological folly.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    And in May’s unnecessary election her suggested hard exit was snubbed.

  • runnymede

    The least obtrusive arrangements that can be organised. But not nothing.

  • runnymede

    Except that it wasn’t as Labour campaigned on leaving both single market and customs union as well. They may well have been lying of course but people voted for them on that basis.

  • Food First

    The Americans are stating Mrs May has withdrawn from talks

  • Michael Dowds

    The leader of Vote Leave:

    … arrangements on the Irish border “absolutely unchanged”

    The SoS for DExEU:

    …is the idea of a comprehensive free trade agreement and a comprehensive customs agreement that will deliver the exact same benefits as we have.

    A lot of things have been said before, during and after the referendum. Some of them we are apparently supposed to ‘interpret’, others are the infallible ‘will of the people’. It gets very difficult to understand what would constitute a ‘betrayal of 17.2m people’ and what wouldn’t.

    Slippery language from politicians and those that apologies for them gets us to strange places.

    Trade with and operate within the ‘Single Market’.
    Free and friction-less trade with the ‘Single Market’
    As friction-less as possible trade with the ‘Single Market’
    Tariff free trade
    No deal
    No deal deal
    ‘The least obtrusive arrangements’ (apparently)

    Where does it all end???

  • runnymede

    In a sensible compromise, one hopes. Though it seems the EU and current ROI PM are not for that.

  • MainlandUlsterman
  • MainlandUlsterman

    correct – DUP and government keen to get onto trade stage of talks, Irish and EU stalling.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Irish had put up preconditions and UK thought it could meet them with some clever wording. But it’s still the Irish preconditions that are holding everything up. You can see why, after this they have no veto.

  • Devil Éire

    If ‘Paris’ were the official title of a French political leader that I was speaking to then, as a matter of courtesy, I would endeavour either to pronounce it as the French do, or to use an established Anglicisation. I would not, I hope, embarrass myself (and potentially insult my French interlocutor and any French observers) by using a wild pronunciation of my own invention.

    That’s bad enough, but imagine if my job was that of a leading political journalist from a neighbouring country with deep historical links to France; and as part of those deep historical links, my country had played a leading role in driving French to near-extinction. Indeed, if my employer had established clear guidelines on how to pronounce this very same title, then I’m not sure what my excuse would be. But then the French are such prickly people – who knows what they will take offence at?

    For words and phrases in languages other than English, it is the BBC Pronunciation Unit’s policy to recommend a pronunciation which is as close as possible to the original, while still pronounceable by our generally native English speaking broadcasters and understandable to our audience members. We also recommend established anglicisations, codified in English pronunciations dictionaries, when they exist.

    Taoiseach (or An Taoiseach) is the title for the head of government and the equivalent of prime minister. The established anglicisation for this word is TEE-shock (-ee as in meet, -sh as in ship). The anglicised pronunciation TEE-shuhck is also widely heard. The deputy prime minister is referred to as Tánaiste, pronounced TAW-nuhsh-tyuh (-aw as in law, -sh as in ship, -ty as in tune, est. anglicisation).

  • MainlandUlsterman

    (vomits over desk)

  • Michael Dowds

    Somewhat contrary to the events of yesterday.

    Merrion Street, No. 10 and Brussels all agreed until Mrs Foster made her crass intervention, non?

  • ‘island man

    Belfast is as Irish as Limerick indeed.

  • ‘island man

    I’m more than happy for you to stop paying for it if it means we can have an end to this nonsensical UK.

  • ‘island man

    Right now, all across Ireland and the UK, the DUPs form of unionism is very hard to like.

  • Food First

    Right do my sums then send you an invoice

  • ‘island man

    I don’t think us Irish owe too much to the English, they’ve cost us enough

  • Food First

    When we were kids all the farms in our area used to hire an Irishman for a month inn haytime
    I thought it was majic in Thoes days it was like someone coming from the other side of the world same family farther & three sons came to diferant farms around the village for a long number of years
    My Mother who was C of E & had a brother who was very bright but ended up an acholic was a bit cold to the guy we had & used to say the Irish would except the half crown but not the crown this would be in the late 50s early 60 s
    This has all my life puzzled me & I wish I had been a little older to question her reasons which probably related to politics & history
    Thank God these wounds are now almost healed & what happens going forward this will not change & next time I am in Ireland it will cost you a beer

  • ‘island man

    Yes almost healed, and if another border goes up separating Irish people north and south, those good relations that have evolved over the past 20 years could go back a few generations. The most sensible option is to keep Ireland, north and south, as operational as it is now. I have very little issue with England, my partner is English, I used to live in England, but it displeases me to no end that the English electorate have caused all of this mess, and now Irish people north and south are trying to deal with the fallout over what could happen at the border. The DUP are useless on this. All they are doing by promoting this Brexit nonsense is standing at the top of Slieve Donard, with a megaphone, and shouting across the Irish Sea, ‘Look, look how British we are by wanting Brexit!’, it’s absurd. If a hard Brexit goes ahead in Ireland, which negatively effects movement, trade and all of the other social and cultural issues, which will undermine the GFA, then we are in border poll territory, and that will damage relations between the two islands, and possibly destabilise the hard won peace.

  • Food First

    I think you are being a little two pesamistic thiar a huge amount of hot air on both sides like Corporal Jones says don’t panic

  • sparrow

    No, you’re behind the news here. EU, Ireland and the UK had a deal yesterday that would’ve allowed trade talks to begin. The DUP blocked it.

  • sparrow

    The DUP has demanded that the deal negotiated by Ireland, the EU and the UK be unpicked and rewritten to their satisfaction. The representatives of 500 million citizens of Europe being kept waiting by 10 MPs representing a couple of hundred thousand people. And you talk about Irish preconditions? Please.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    However The hard exit Has still been snubbed Runny! Won’t Be typing for a Bit, broken right arm! Enjoy my absence!

  • T.E.Lawrence

    Get that 40% Nationalist Vote to 50% over the next forthcoming Elections in NI and then the British SOS might consider a Border Poll, until then stop talking Bull !

  • Lagos1

    You forget that everybody in Ireland drives an HGV and crosses the border 10 times a day delivering medical equipment components. Oh, and none of them have computers to complete any paperwork online.