Arlene Foster was told to do what the DUP does best – say no

Posted By: March 27, 2019

Distributed to Congress by Irish National Caucus

Having backed the DUP into a Brexit cul-de-sac, Arlene Foster and Nigel Dodds are now digging a hole at the end of the cul-de-sac. 

Brian Feeney. Irish News.Belfast. Wednesday, March 27, 2019 
SOME of Theresa May’s opponents talk of her Withdrawal Agreement being a ‘blind Brexit’ because no-one knows where it would lead or where she aims to take it.

Perhaps she does, but she’s not telling. In the case of her partners in government, the DUP, it appears they’re both blind and deaf when it comes to Brexit, a handicap confirmed by the increasingly nonsensical commentary served up by Deputy Dodds these days.

On Friday, the day after May returned, tongue-tied, repetitive, robotic, from her latest humiliating exhibition in Brussels, Dodds complained: “The Prime Minister missed an opportunity at the EU Council to put forward proposals which could have improved the prospects of an acceptable Withdrawal Agreement and help unite the country.”

He added, there were “clear divisions and arguments” in the EU camp.

All this is drivel. Yet no-one challenges him about it.

Either he didn’t read the EU Council Conclusions statement issued after a marathon eight-hour session when they kept May waiting in a windowless room or, if he did read it, he didn’t understand it.

Here’s what paragraph four of the EU document said on the Withdrawal Agreement (WA): “The European Council reiterates that there can be no opening of the Withdrawal Agreement that was agreed between the Union and the United Kingdom in November 2018.”

Clear, as Theresa May would say?

Clear to everyone it seems but Deputy Dodds. Remember May desperately tried to have the WA reopened after her historic defeat in parliament in January? No chance.

Remember England’s attorney general Geoffrey Cox went to Strasbourg with May to try to have bits added on? He got some, but in a rare example of honesty from a Conservative minister, he admitted they made no difference.

Last week, because she accepted the WA could not be reopened, May went to Brussels solely to speak to her letter asking for an extension of the deadline for crashing out of the EU.

Reopening the WA was not on the agenda and so she couldn’t have asked for that. Besides, what would she have asked for?

Ah yes, that brings us to another Dodds idiocy.

On Sunday he told BBC TV there have to be changes to the Backstop. Seriously? After all these months?

It seems that Dodds and the DUP remain the only people who don’t know that ship sailed a long time ago.

Does he not realize that when the entire EU 27 unanimously agreed in paragraph four of their statement that the WA can’t be reopened, that includes the backstop, an integral part of the WA?

Just in case it wasn’t ‘clear’, the EU added in paragraph four: “Any unilateral commitment, statement or other act should be compatible with the letter and the spirit of the Withdrawal Agreement.”

In other words, on Thursday night they headed off Deputy Dodds and the DUP at the pass in case they persuaded Theresa May to resurrect some unilateral declaration from Strasbourg designed to cut across or subvert the Backstop.

Yet, there was Dodds on Friday and again on Sunday spouting his usual codswallop and, getting away with it.

On his assertion that there were “divisions and arguments in the EU camp,” quite the contrary.

The only arguments were about how to make it crystal clear to the British that all 27 EU countries were unanimous in their determination to tell the British: “This is the Withdrawal Agreement. Get on with it.”

As usual the DUP have talked themselves into a cul-de-sac.

Until last weekend, there was talk of them trying to find a way to do a U-turn, even reverse out of the cul-de-sac but, as usual, they’ve now decided to dig a hole at the end of the cul-de-sac.

When Theresa May rang Arlene Foster on Monday to ask if there was any chance of the DUP supporting her deal, it was a courtesy call, for the real decisions are made by the party’s MPs.

Foster was told to do what the party does best. Say no.

Meanwhile, as highly principled as ever, the DUP MPs are sounding out contenders to replace May to ascertain if they will sign a new confidence and supply deal.