Myself and Kieran Pedley chunking through the various polls and issues around the DUP and Brexit. What we didn’t anticipate was the very swift conclusion of Phase 1 talks.
I’ve outlined three things they want: a frictionless border; best possible trade deal with Europe (a key aid to the first); and the U.K. (including NI) to be free to strike its own trade deals particularly with the developing world outwith the EU.
This last is why the argument over terms is important going into Phase Two talks which will in the end dictate the real terms of the final agreement, over which Ireland will play little in the way of a direct role.
The DUP are committed to Brexit, and one that will deepen British sovereignty in Northern Ireland. But Arlene Foster’s own home constituency is commercially sensitive to any barriers.
The irony of all the chest thumping from Dublin (not least the questioning of the DUP’s right to speak for Northern Ireland), is that having the DUP input so directly to the British government may be the best guarantor of the deal Ireland really needs.
That is to maintain free trade east and west between the Republic and Britain. Not, since they helped engineer this potentially traumatic change, that anyone should particularly thank them for it.
But some tacit recognition of their strategic importance in steering this thing somewhere safe could prove very useful if the Irish government wants to avoid becoming the strawberry jam in a UK-EU sandwich.