Boris Johnson will need more than 10 bought DUP MPs for a stable government

Posted By: July 18, 2019

Brian Feeney. Irish News. Belfast. Wednesday, July 17, 2019

THIS day next week Boris Johnson will be British prime minister. Who knows, he may even introduce himself to Parliament before it rises for the summer recess.

His arrival as head of government will mark an unprecedented low point in British politics, an event viewed with anxiety and alarm in important sectors of British society, including many Conservative MPs.

There have been British prime ministers who were rogues, Lloyd George for example, others like Asquith, who were functioning alcoholics, but their misdemeanors were largely secret, or at least known to a small circle.

In the case of Johnson the opposite is the case. British newspapers openly describe him variously as a liar and a charlatan, a buffoon and a clown.

One of his former employers, then-editor of the Daily Torygraph, Max Hastings, wrote an excoriating critique of Johnson’s activities and concluded he is not fit to be prime minister.

His biographer and former colleague, Sonia Purnell, wrote extensively about his unsavory activities when he was based in Brussels.

None of it matters. English politics, and it is almost exclusively English politics, has reached such a state of chaos and decrepitude that Johnson will be clutched in desperation.

It is almost exclusively English politics that has arrived at this sorry pass, but not quite.

We mustn’t forget the DUP, a party which once preached morality to everyone else – some of them still do – have also clutched Johnson to their breast.

Johnson can’t be prime minister without the support of the DUP. Imagine selling yourself to such a reviled character.

For three years now, the DUP have been willfully misrepresenting The North, that misrepresentation recently confirmed in the European parliament elections when voters returned two ‘Remain’ candidates.

Yet, just as English politicians hold their noses and embrace Johnson, so too, the DUP, fully aware of the damage they are doing to agriculture, business and society here, will troop into Downing Street to receive their mess of pottage.

Does this performance say more about DUP voters than the party that traduces them?

On the other hand, it may all be for nothing. Johnson’s arrival will change the terms of trade.

While he can’t be prime minister without the DUP, he may not be able to govern with the DUP support he has purchased.

It is clear from recent statements that a number of ministers who will lose their positions in Cabinet when Johnson appoints his supporters, will oppose Johnson.

Between a dozen and 30 Conservative MPs, allied with Labour, the Lib Dems and the SNP, will prevent Johnson following the extremist route out of the EU which he proposes publicly.

People like Liam Fox, Philip Hammond, David Gauke are lining up with Dominic Grieve and Ken Clarke to expose the nonsense in the statements of policy Johnson spews out.

Ten bought DUP MPs will no longer be sufficient to maintain stable government.

Last week we saw the extent of animosity towards the DUP when hundreds of Conservatives voted in favor of bringing the north into the 21st century.

It may be well into next year before the full consequences of the arrival of Johnson in Downing Street take effect and what passes for his government falls.

The contempt and loathing for Johnson in his own party may mean that the Conservative party finally splits after 40 years of internecine warfare about the EU and British politics is reset, but there are lessons to be learnt here.

Since 1949 Unionists always had a veto on constitutional change, but British governments allowed them to extend that to a veto on any change.

For temporary political advantage Theresa May and her awful government revived the Unionist veto which, first Margaret Thatcher in the 1985 Anglo-Irish Agreement, and then Tony Blair in the Good Friday Agreement, removed.

The first task for the Irish government is to reset the Good Friday Agreement, an international treaty the British are flouting.