May hiding behind useful DUP idiots

Posted By: September 26, 2018

Irish Congressional Briefing

Distributed by Irish National Caucus


Brian Feeney. Irish News. Belfast. Wednesday, September 26, 2018 
May has been using the DUP most cynically

AFTER the Salzburg debacle the Sunday Times political editor, Tim Shipman, tweeted that most people in Britain “don’t give a monkey’s” about  The North.

He added: “They think it’s a strange sectarian place and feel more at home in Cork, Washington or Paris than Belfast. Theresa May doesn’t share this view but she might have to come round to it to get us out of this mess.” You know all that, but the DUP doesn’t.

May has been using the DUP most cynically since last December as a way to crowbar her government into the customs union and single market. May’s preposterous high-horse speech on Friday was part of that same strategy but her political posturing in the speech laid bare what she’s up to. Let’s spell it out.

Last December, she signed up to the backstop which would keep The North in the single market and customs union. Within 48 hours David Davis was claiming on the Andrew Marr show that what May had agreed would allow the whole UK to remain in a common regulatory system – in fact, the opposite of what she’d agreed.

There’s nothing unusual in what the EU is proposing. There are loads of EU anomalies, states and parts of states having different internal customs and VAT arrangements.

There are the Canary Islands, an integral part of the Spanish state, but with different VAT and customs from mainland Spain. There’s Greenland, an autonomous territory in the kingdom of Denmark but not in the EU. There’s Gibraltar, a dependent British territory with an English MEP, but not in the EU VAT area. Not to mention strange anomalies in French overseas territories.

Now here’s where the DUP come in as useful idiots. May had to get around acknowledging such anomalies as normal in the EU and therefore available to The North.

Her DUP hypocrites, with the grateful connivance of the British government, politicized the issue. The backstop for The North would have, `constitutional implications’ howled the DUP. “There can be no difference between the north and GB.” And then, the pièce de résistance, “it infringes the Good Friday Agreement and the principle of consent.” The DUP opposes the GFA, and the principle of consent only applies to the north-south border, not to whatever the DUP dislikes. All complete balderdash.

Tell the Spanish having different VAT and customs in the Canaries has constitutional implications and see what they say. The DUP were asking for a different rate of corporation tax here from GB; apparently, that’s OK. There are different laws here covering all sorts of different matters as there are in Scotland which is still part of GB. Scotland can have different income tax rates. Despite all the differences, the UK remains sovereign, unfortunately. Both Theresa May and the DUP know that fine [very well], but it suits their political purposes to pretend otherwise.

May knows the practical and logistical case for checks on animals, plants and some goods entering The North is unanswerable but she desperately needs to find a way to keep the UK surreptitiously in the customs union and part of the single market. After all, she’s a remainer. Chequers was her cunning plan but it was a non-starter, a pipedream.

The DUP’s intransigence was her get out, her way of explaining to her own Brexiteers why she had to stay aligned with the EU, and her way of pleading a special case to the EU for staying half in and half out. Both ridiculed her.

On Friday she wrapped herself in not one, but two Union Jacks and took refuge in nationalism and the chancer’s last refuge, patriotism. “I will not break up my country”, which no one is asking; deliberately, mischievously, confusing the definition of country, nation, and state. Would the people of the Bone and Beechmount, of Creggan and Camlough [places in The North] be part of May’s country? Thought not.

That posture may go down well with the Daily Mail and the Sun but it won’t wash with Brussels or her Brexiteers. She’s caught out. Now she’s up a cul de sac. Pleading,” the DUP made me do it,” hasn’t worked, especially when the EU has offered a perfectly reasonable plan to operate what she signed up to last December.