UFU President declaration that a No-Deal Brexit would be an “absolute disaster” indicates a restless DUP base in spite of MPs’ chippy bravado

The news that the four pro-Remain parties had issued a joint statement during the week urging the EU “to remain firm” in their stated position of not reopening the Withdrawal Agreement will not have overly vexed Arlene Foster and her party colleagues.

However, today’s unambiguous statement from the President of the Ulster Farmers Union, Ivor Ferguson, declaring a No-Deal Brexit to be “an absolute disaster” will certainly have been noted by the party leader.

The dire warning was issued during an interview with Ivor Ferguson on Sunday Politics, and echoes comments from the organisation’s Wesley Aston back in November, when the farming union urged the DUP to back the Withdrawal Agreement.

The developing sense of alarm has, in recent days, triggered public interventions from the CEO of Danske Bank UK, Kevin Kingston, and the board of Invest NI.

Kingston declared himself to be “gravely concerned about the challenges ahead, should a hard Brexit become a reality”, whilst the board of Invest NI has similarly expressed concern about the general state of unpreparedness across the business community for a No Deal. Intriguingly, the comments are attributed to the Invest NI board. Its chief executive and former DUP special adviser, Alastair Hamilton, had previously indicated himself to be ‘excited’ by opportunities presented by leaving the EU.

Whilst the build the border walls high Westminster wing of the DUP continue with the cavalier let them eat chips’ attitude- downed with Theresa’s tea of milk with no sugar, it will be interesting to see how the pressure building from the party’s business and farming base impacts on the DUP’s statements and actions as the outline of the cliff edge comes ever closer into view in the weeks ahead.

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