DUP has been cast adrift again

Posted By: March 01, 2023



Distributed to Congress by Irish National Caucus

Belfast columnist Brian Feeney tells some home truths to the DUP about the Windsor Framework. —Fr. Sean McManus.

DUP has been cast adrift again.

 Brian Feeney. Irish News. Belfast. Wednesday, March 1, 2023

Despite Sunak’s overselling, the protocol remains. Philip Rycroft, former permanent secretary at the Department for Exiting the EU, summed up the EU-UK negotiations best. He said: “The fundamentals of the protocol remain. This is about implementing the protocol.”

It couldn’t be otherwise. The Northern Ireland Protocol is part of the Withdrawal Agreement of 2019, an international treaty, which, in case you need reminding, all the ERG voted for, admittedly in bad faith.

What are those fundamentals? There remains a trade border in the Irish Sea. There’ll still be checks at ports here. The north stays in the EU single market rules for goods (though most people forget, never for services or free movement of people) and the European Court of Justice (ECJ) remains the ultimate arbiter on how EU law applies.

You wouldn’t know any of this if you believed what Sunak’s been claiming, desperate to get it over the line. To do so he didn’t address the majority of people here but spent all his time pulling the wool over the DUP’s eyes and placating his ERG opponents.

Especially absurd was his nonsense about “returning sovereignty” to people in the north. Not true: this devolved region has no sovereignty over anything, much less international trade.

However, crow-barring in the discredited petition of concern to try to create a minority veto is a recipe for conflict and a guarantee of deadlock. Despite his claims, as von der Leyen said, the ECJ “is the final and ultimate arbiter”.

Of course,  you can smell the fudge and see the candy floss, but there’s no disguising the fact that it’s a defeat for the ERG, that collection of wingnuts and Empire 2.0 fantasists who have had such a malign effect on politics in Britain and the north over the past seven or eight years.

Consequently, it’s also the end of the road for the DUP: dupes and suckers the ERG cynically and malevolently used, egged onto the streets in 2021, dishonestly claiming to support the Good Friday Agreement while simultaneously wrecking it. The ERG is a busted flush with, we’re told, only about 20 turning up to meetings last week and its self-proclaimed ‘hard man of Brexit’, Steve Baker, now a paid-up convert to good relations with the EU.

That’s really what it’s about – a reset of UK-EU relations to undo the dreadful damage the hard Brexit deal Johnson and his useful idiot Frost inflicted on the UK.

The polls show most people in Britain now think it was all a mistake. The long-term impact on the economy is well documented while the short-term effects are being acutely suffered by everyone.

What Sunak wants is removing the sanctions the EU has already placed on the UK because of the refusal of the Johnson and Truss governments to operate the protocol, one of the reasons for the protocol’s problems since January 2021.

After Monday’s deal, von der Leyen promised immediate action on Horizon, the €95.5 billion research and innovation program the UK was cut out of because it ratted on the protocol in 2021. Sunak expects a loosening of a range of bureaucratic restrictions. In short, as von der Leyen said, “to open a new chapter in EU-UK relations.”

Anyone who thinks agreeing to this streamlined protocol, for that’s all it is, is about problems in the north must be a DUP supporter. There’s not one person in 10,000 in England who gives tuppence [two pence] about this place or an Irish Sea border.

Remember, in 2017 when Theresa May did her dirty deal with the DUP, Google was flooded with the question “What is the DUP?” You might well ask.

Unlike the man from Del Monte, they’re the people who like to say “No.” Now they’re isolated again, cast adrift by the people they naively thought were their friends who offered undying support. Is this the third or fourth time since 1921?