As public rhetoric around Brexit subsides, it seems the DUP does want a ‘dynamic alignment with the EU’

Isn’t it funny what comes out in the wash? John Manley in the Irish News today has an interesting snippet on how Ed Poots privately lobbied the UK Agriculture Secretary for a Swiss style associate membership

In a letter to agriculture secretary George Eustice last June, Stormont minister Edwin Poots described alignment with EU rules on food and agricultural products as a “key ask” in reducing the impact of the Irish Sea border.

“This could be achieved, for example, by dynamic alignment with relevant parts of the EU acquis and the UK joining the common veterinary area (as in the Swiss/EU arrangement),” he wrote in the letter copied to Scottish and Welsh governments that has been obtained by the Financial Times.

The DUP agriculture minister said the demands “must be met” in order to avoid “unacceptable burdens” on Northern Ireland’s population.

It makes sense from a policy point of view, and might have been easier to achieve had this position been made public beforehand. Too often however leaving the EU was posed as a simple money saving exercise.

It might also be where we end up, if only by drift and default. Europe hasn’t gone away you know. And Brexit is going to remain an unmade bed for the foreseeable future.

As Manley further notes, this lack of openness on the part of the DUP has led to confusion amongst the party’s frontbenchers…

Last week, DUP Economy Minister Diane Dodds initially rejected calls to explore a Swiss-style deal, saying it would require the UK to “slavishly” align with Europe.

Over subsequent days, the party’s line appeared to soften, however, with DUP leader Arlene Foster saying such a arrangement only dealt with “one aspect” of the protocol.

Mrs Dodds said she was “not against a Swiss-deal deal in and of itself”.

You can see this lack of openness elsewhere too. If you talk to individuals within Sinn Féin it is clear they want a general amnesty in order to get their own ex prisoners off whatever hooks they might be on for un-convicted troubles era crimes.

But they cannot bring themselves to ask for it out loud, the chances of it ever happening recede into the darkness.

The result, as we can see with the DUP wanting their cake and eating it over Brexit, is drift, endless chaos and the same generally poor sense of agency and confidence in democracy we see elsewhere.

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