DUP won’t endorse the Windsor Protocol without “clarification, change and re-working…”

Latest is that DUP MPs are not going to vote for the Windsor Framework in Westminster. It’s tempting to jump to the conclusion that this is where they’re going to land at the end of the month, but (a little) premature.

They’ve chosen an awkward (Peter Robinson like) device that doesn’t make the party leader’s position particularly easy whilst the panel deliberate in the background. My own suspicion is that they’re probably busy taking soundings from they voter base.

LucidTalk polling suggests just 16% of DUP supporters are in favour. Given the scale of progress on some of the practical objections that convinced the party to down tools and leave the institutions at Stormont in limbo that seems a very low figure.

If it is a fair reflection of the party’s actual support out in the country, then you’d have to say it’s all over now. But if that was the case, then the DUP’s position would be relatively easy to defend and the route ahead clear now fresh elections are off the table.

But I suspect the real position is not that clear. If it was, then why wouldn’t the party just kick the deal to touch and have done with it until the next General election and a new government seemingly committed to ‘de-sectarianising the economy’?

Last week, Tom McTague up-summed Donaldson’s dilemma this way:

Do they back Sunak’s deal as a marked improvement on Johnson’s — or reject it as a marked deterioration on what existed before Brexit? If they choose the former, they risk legitimising the very division of the UK which they exist to oppose, alienating their electoral base in the process. But if they choose the latter, refusing to go back into government with Sinn Fein, they risk delegitimising the very state they wish to preserve.

Or do they just keep punting it slowly forward and wait for next year’s new UK broom? Getting a deal now will ultimately come down to what real voters actually think.

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