Theresa may drown in tidal wave of Loyalism

Posted By: December 07, 2017

Allison Morris. Irish New. Thursday. December 7, 2017 

Regulatory convergence, harmonization, special status, hard Border, frictionless Border, sea Border and no Border, what strange times we find ourselves in.

The issue of how an island as small as Ireland, dependent on cross-border trade and cooperation, would operate following Brexit was always a key consideration for people living here and one of the main reasons why the majority voted to remain in the European Union.

But while this has always been at the forefront of our minds it appears to have only registered with our UK neighbors in the last fortnight.

The economically sound and logical solution to the problem is to give Northern Ireland special status, keeping it within the spirit of the customs union while placing a Border in the Irish sea.

But as these last few days have shown it is not economic considerations but ideological attachment to the UK that has the DUP opposed to any such move.

If the version of events that the public have to now been treated to is correct, and if Theresa May took a call from Arlene Foster while in a deal-making lunch with Jean-Claude Juncker, scuppering the agreement, well that is beyond remarkable.

Simon Coveney and Leo Varadkar appear to be the perfect political team in these challenging times.

They are in a strengthened position now that the other member states have confirmed Ireland will have the veto over any deal on the Border.

They have real power in negotiations and not the kind that only comes with the backing of the DUP parliamentary members.

The Tory negotiating team seemed to have dismissed the Irish government to a degree; the last few weeks have had a whiff of the Empire mentality about them.

The British government seemed to think they could cook up some dodgy tasting fudge around The Border and the daft little Irish would fall in behind and do as they’re told.

That wasn’t and isn’t the case. Varadkar is standing firm as a man who will not be bullied or browbeaten by the British government, he seems assured and statesmanlike and the Irish people, with long memories of historic war and misrule, are reacting well to that.

On the other hand, Theresa May’s confidence and supply deal with the DUP now hangs like a weight around her neck.

It has been fascinating to watch as the UK press and, indeed,  political class suddenly wake up to the fact there is a great big Border dividing us here.

However, the misunderstanding of our political make-up and some quite disturbing – and apparently still acceptable – anti-Irish bias has been depressing to observe.

When a Channel 4 news team stopped people on the streets of England and asked them to draw the Irish border, the results – while hilarious – showed how little they know or care for us here in Northern Ireland.

And so while the DUP are publicly cock-a-hoop their power looks set to be short-lived.

In reality, no matter how British they feel they are just another group of troublemaking Irish as far as their newfound benefactors and the UK electorate are concerned.

The damage done to Theresa May, both domestically and among the leaders, she is currently trying to negotiate the mother of all divorces with, could be fatal to her long-term survival.

To stop an already incomprehensibly complicated process from moving to phase two because the DUP are obsessed with their Britishness above all other considerations is quite extraordinary.

Arlene Foster appeared to have forgotten that she is no longer first minister and insisted she was speaking for Northern Ireland when in reality she only represents a chunk of Unionism.

It shows just what a massive hole May has dug for herself when she is beholden to such sentiments. She is a prime minister involved in a process that will change how we all live for generations to come, and her next move of the chess board is being dictated to by 10 Northern Irish MPs wrapped in Union flags and singing Rule Britannia.

The only thing that has saved her skin until now is that no one else within the Conservative Party wants responsibility for what is an economic catastrophe in the making.

You can feel that a snap election – another one – is never too far in the distance.

Should that happen,  I can’t imagine Prime Minister Jeremy Corbyn will be as indulgent of the DUP’s demands.