What sort of game are the DUP playing in Westminster over Brexit…

Above is a highlighted version of a conversation with Allison Morris and Malachi O’Doherty on Stephen Nolan’s ‘biggest show in the country’ this morning on the DUP’s dissension from Theresa May’s deal towards a deal.

Draw your own conclusions, but I have made three basic assumptions :

  • Politics in Northern Ireland conditions people into believing every big issue ends in a clear winner and a clear loser, and that at some point we will hit a final result. For the most part, democratic politics mixes a thousand small victories with a thousand small defeats.
  • The DUP are playing a relatively effective bit part in this game. Their insistence upon a confidence and supply rather than a coalition means the game of Brexit is not theirs to win or lose. But it gives them room to signal dissent/approval. Abstaining on a budget vote is a signal.
  • All politics is about numbers, and the numbers for Mrs May haven’t changed. They still need the DUP. And the DUP want to retain the only senior gig in NI politics. Tories don’t want an election and the Labour party really does. Until/unless that changes neither will eject the other.

None of which will mean that the DUP will get what they want. But tomorrow Mrs May is back in Brussels to see if they can tweak the draft agreement. Without some radical change in the Parliamentary numbers (and an election), this arrangement may have years to go yet.

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty