Tele column – 8th December 2017

The DUP is not just for Christmas

What about the DUP then? The phrase ‘tail wagging the dog’ springs to mind. The United Kingdom (that is of course the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland) had actually managed to broker a deal with the European Union over the border between the north and south of Ireland. The difficulty that has occurred is that once the UK leaves the EU we don’t want a hard border between the north and south of Ireland. We want goods and people to be able to flow back and forward just as they currently do. This is one of the major stumbling blocks in the European Union withdrawal process and Theresa May’s team seemed to have cracked it. Much joy was consumed in the Westminster bars and smug Tories indulged in copious back slapping and self-congratulations, until someone told their compadres, the Democratic Unionists. And then the castle, built on sand, fell into the sea. It’s not just a billion pounds that the DUP have in their pocket, it’s the UK government and apparently the EU withdrawal negotiations too. To be honest I was surprised the border deal could be done at all but apparently, where there is a will there is a way. Remember that next time we are told an independent Scotland would need a hard border with England and that families would be torn apart, parents from their children and grandparents from their grandchildren. One by one the Scottish referendum lies are being exposed. And then, after midnight on Monday, to add injury to insult, the DUP trooped through the voting lobby four times with the UK government effectively killing off any amendments to clause eleven of the EU (withdrawal) bill that could have repatriated one hundred and eleven EU powers to Scotland. Instead they now lie with the UK government. This action shows a total disregard for the Scotland Act of 1998 (schedule 5) which defines the powers that are reserved to Westminster and that all others are devolved to Holyrood. Monday provided two great opportunities to move Brexit forward but by combining political naivety and DUPlicity both opportunities were lost.