What the DUP really fears is British betraya

Posted By: December 06, 2017

Distributed by Irish National Caucus

The DUP and the Conservatives signed a ‘confidence and supply’ arrangement in June. DUP leader Arlene Foster reportedly torpedoed the proposed Brexit border deal during a phone call with British Prime Minister Theresa May. 

Brian Feeney. Irish News. Belfast. Wednesday, December 6, 2017

It was a perfect snooker on Monday. The DUP had May on the cushion. There was one ball she had to hit but her path was blocked by a collection of the wrong balls as you could see.

Just as in a real game of snooker she has decided to take her time trying to work out how to escape from the snooker. The rest of this week she’ll be walking around the table working out angles.

While she’s doing that there are some parochial conclusions that can be drawn. First, it’s the end of devolved administration here until a British general election changes the complexion of government. She may have thought on Monday she was reading out a stone-walling statement but Arlene Foster was, in reality, reading out her own P45. Spurred on by her hard line,  MPs who were panicked by the leaks about the EU-UK agreement on The Border in Ireland she proved beyond peradventure that Sinn Féin are correct about the Stormont standoff.

By coincidence Sinn Féin’s Declan Kearney had just been on the radio trying to finish an uninterrupted sentence to explain why the Good Friday Agreement was in danger from the Conservative-DUP alignment – there’s that word again. Theresa May’s alacrity in responding to the DUP statement showed why there can be no deal at Stormont. Just as Sinn Féin has been claiming all along it’s obvious now that the British government and its useless proconsul block anything that might discomfit the DUP. So there can be and will be,  no progress as long as the Conservative-DUP link remains.

People are going to have to stop saying the DUP and Sinn Féin is as bad as each other. The evidence quite clearly points to DUP stone-walling supported by the Conservative government as the reason for the failure to resume business at Stormont.

Secondly, Theresa May is now doing what Sinn Féin sources confirm the British government always does in negotiations. They reach a draft agreement,  and then begin to negotiate backward from it,  having discovered their opponent’s bottom line. For example, that’s what they’re doing with the Stormont House deal in the past. On Monday, May incredibly took off the table an agreement she’d made that morning with the EU. She unagreed it. Having talked Dublin down from ‘no regulatory divergence’ to ‘continued regulatory alignment’ she will now try to water that down too.

The British will still have to accept most of the concessions they’ve already made because they’re desperate to get to Phase 2 and talk about trade. However, they will now plead mitigation because, since all the ambiguities and subtleties have been exposed and dissected, it’s going to be much more difficult to convince the Brextremists of the merits of the deal, but deal there must be.

What we also know from experience is this. May and her advisers will easily convince their DUP dupes by spelling out in words of one syllable how different the agreement was from the leak that spooked the DUP. They will cobble together a deal, then at the appropriate time rat on the DUP. The DUP know that. They may heap all the abuse on the Irish government but their real fear is the British betraying them. After all, they’ve always done it in the past and getting a deal with the EU is vastly more important to the British than placating Depooty Dawds[Deputy Nigel Dodds].

What the DUP are attempting is to embarrass the British government into sticking to the principles May enunciated “in the House of Commons,” as poor redundant Arlene kept repeating. Fat chance.

The worrying aspect of all this is that the Irish government may not appreciate that having convinced the DUP and the Brextremists and concluded a deal to get into trade talks, the British will then rat on the Irish when it comes to the detail of a trade deal.

What the Irish government has to do is to get the principles agreed in any EU-UK deal on The Border written into the final withdrawal treaty the UK makes with the EU. If they aren’t written into that,  then they don’t exist except as a gleam in Leo Varadkar’s eye.