Polling Matters: What do the DUP want?

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.

  • Mimi Balguerie

    I’m only reflecting on the fact that if the DUP turned up to meetings, the minor amendments they threw a tantrum over would have been included in the original draft. The spirit of good neighbourliness – respecting the privacy of one’s garden fence? – is one thingy but the DUP could do with learning about co-operation in the spirit of good business. If they did so they might actually get the outcomes they want rather than being cut out if negotiations by their so-called partners.

  • Nevin

    Mimi, why are you disregarding Ireland’s disregard for the 1998 Agreement’s Strand 2? Are you even familiar with the roles played by Irish civil servants from the departments of foreign affairs and justice in day-to-day decision making here, roles that are open to parliamentary scrutiny or freedom of information requests?

  • Nevin

    “You believe in a de minimis engagement between Belfast and Dublin, entirely through the institutional structures.”

    Rubbish. I’ve always promoted the positive and balanced development of all strands in the 1998 Agreement. Cherry-picking or contempt by Dublin (or any of the other parties to the Agreement) isn’t the way to go.

  • Kevin Breslin

    What did Dublin do to upset you? Sure it was Boris and his Tory mates, and Lee Reynolds and the other DUP ones who effectively Brexit wouldn’t close the border and somehow that message filtered down South it was possible.
    Clearly the Republic wanted regulatory alignment for the Northern part of the island to make things easier for BOTH sides, the Englanders were fine with that so long as they could do their own thing, and the DUP after sitting on their hands felt the two of them were making N. I. More detached from the rest of the UK than it already is.

  • Kevin Breslin

    There was no one in Belfast, I believe Leo has met reps from all five parties.

  • Des Donnelly

    “..and the U.K. (including NI) to be free to strike its own trade deals particularly with the developing world outwith the EU.”

    It would be very interesting to look at the GDP implications of this given the impoverished state of the economy here in the north.

    One wonders how the Union oriented members of farming community will embrace the New Zealand lamb or Argentinian beef when it arrives.. I can’t seem to find an Ulster Scots equivalent translation for New Zealand or Argentinian (but I am happy to be educated and learn something new at the same time if someone cares to offer a translation)..

  • Nevin

    Ireland’s concern for Northern Ireland is fake; it’s trade with the rest of the UK is far greater.

  • Nevin

    The forum was introduced by Enda, not Leo, and it happened before SF went on the run.

  • Nevin

    This deal or a UK-Mercosur deal?

  • Nevin

    “Morgan Stanley already have predicted her demise in 2008”

    Neat typo, CW. Perhaps you’re on Ovaltine!

  • SeaanUiNeill

    A long time ago during the late 1980s in the course of an interview for “The Creative Review” regarding my film work, I coined the term “technological hypnotism” about the tendency to imagine computers could readily solve problems all by themselves.

    It’s always a problem trying to explain limitations to non-experts besotted with technology. At some production meeting I’d work through all the negatives and positives of any approach to a complex problem only to find someone with some clout try and bring up some generalised specious “solution” they had heard off in the media, as if it was just as valid. When they were putting large sums of money into a project the intervention could be potentislly lethal to any hope of success. They’d say “Let’s try my suggestions out first, and if they don’t work we can come back to what you’ve budgeted for.” Forgetting of course we were on a limited amount of money. I doubt that the plans for border controls are much different.

  • Kevin Breslin

    You do realize I was on Spotlight Special basically saying “What kind of Irish government would leave Donegal, Leitrim, Cavan, Monaghan and Louth in the lurch until the end of trade talks?”

    The border issue is kind of a bigger deal for the government based on this island than it is for the government based on the other.

    It may be a different dynamic if Scotland left the UK… then it may be Who Speaks for Northumberland and Cumbria … Who speaks for Wigstownshire, Stewartry, Dumfrieshire and Roxburghshire?

    Would the Scottish nationalists and English nationalists who clearly want to get free from one another easilty hand wave such issues of realpolitik in that case then?

    I had decided to go on BBC Television to highlight this point, that Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland are in effect interlinked, by the same mountains, same rivers, and same Brexit border problems!

    The Irish Sea issue is a side issue, it’s GB that is creating that border lowering regulations to make normal British goods unsuitable to the Irish market.

  • Kevin Breslin

    And Simon Coveney has met the DUP at a DUP conference when he was agricultural minister, and just before challenging Leo for the Fine Gael leadership.

    Do you really think openly homosexual Leo Varadkar would be welcomed with open arms there?

  • Nevin

    What has this got to do with the co-operative approach required in Strand 2 – as distinct from Dublin going on a solo run?

  • Kevin Breslin

    There was no solo run, from the point of view of the EU, the UK speaks on behalf of its people, from the point of view of the EU, the Irish speaks on behalf of its people … the DUP is the government of no one, ergo if it cannot get the UK to fight its battles and doesn’t want the Irish to fight its battles … who’s it really left with?

    Is it time to bring back the Ulster Third Way and seek independence from the UK and Republic of Ireland?

  • Nevin

    GB isn’t a state; the EU negotiates with states.

  • Nevin

    “There was no solo run”

    You really ought to pay attention. Have you forgotten Arlene’s reaction to Enda’s solo run?

    Recalling how the Taoiseach had made his proposal – just before a North South Ministerial Council meeting in Dublin, in July – Foster says: “It was very badly mishandled. We weren’t aware of his decision to set this forum up until I arrived in Dublin. I made it very clear that I was not going to be a part of it.”

    There is indeed no Northern Ireland Executive at present but you seem to have overlooked SF doing a runner.

  • Kevin Breslin

    And GB and NI have to negotiate within a state … so for all the We’re leaving as One Nation, recognition is that the UK state has 4 nations with differing conflicts of interests has to emerge.

    Will this lead to federalism, who knows?

  • Kevin Breslin

    Oh so Enda Kenny has a solo-run by having a civic dialogue?

    So this dialogue was carried out in front of a mirror?

    I said at the time, and my opinion hasn’t changed since, the UK and NI should have more civic dialogues so they can understand the concerns of sectors.

    It’s far better than having a certain politician with a computer science degree (and fair play to him on that) second guessing these concerns and trying to theoretically predict the direction of these markets on an ad hoc basis.

  • Nevin

    “a North/South Ministerial Council to be established to bring together
    those with executive responsibilities in Northern Ireland and the Irish
    Government, to develop consultation, co-operation and action within the island of Ireland .. on matters of mutual interest”

    In other words, Dublin and Belfast would jointly sponsor such civic dialogue – or give each other first refusal. Ditto for projects impinging on, say, the island diaspora. It’s not rocket science but does seem beyond the comprehension of prominent nationalists who persist in banging their heads against the wall.

  • Nevin

    The UK consists of one sovereign administration and three devolved administrations. The DUP has a certain leverage at present but it could just as easily have been the SNP.

    Some of the labelling is indeed confusing. I try to use official political labelling in politics as distinct from colloquial forms eg Ireland rather than the Republic for the Irish state.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Neither side is handcuffed to the other, why couldn’t the DUP revive the Civic Forum to discuss Brexit? Why was there no UK wide civic discussion? Why must the DUP only carry out politics with other parties outside of a civic basis?

  • Nevin

    Why are you running away from the letter and spirit of Strand 2?

  • Kevin Breslin

    Where in Strand 2 of the Good Friday Agreement did it say the Republic cannot carry out non Executive functions with people in Northern Ireland?

    May as well attack the Republic for inviting Peter Robinson and his plus one to the Royal Visit, or along to St Patrick’s Day in New York.

    No breach of Strand 2 there, no need for any of those events to be sponsored by NSMC or IntertradeIreland or Bord Failte!

    Seriously, the bigger problem is the DUP not trusting what civic society in Northern Ireland have to say about Brexit!

    Patriarchal beyond all understanding!