Where now for the DUP?
Sir, – Jonathan Powell (Opinion & Analysis, October 19th) agrees with the DUP that the principle of cross-community consent should be maintained in the Brexit arrangements for Northern Ireland. Unfortunately, that principle was shattered when the UK electorate as a whole took Northern Ireland out of the EU against the wishes of the nationalist community, and indeed against the wishes of an overall majority in Northern Ireland itself.
Had the DUP fought against Brexit, one might have some sympathy for its demands for consent now; but instead it campaigned vociferously in favour, funnelling political donations from unidentified sources into the main UK campaign. It must have seemed like a splendid wheeze – stroke politics of the highest order – to undermine consent and drive a wedge between Northern nationalists and the Republic.
It has been apparent, at least since the accession of Arlene Foster as leader, that the DUP has no genuine interest in the Belfast Agreement and has been intent on undermining it wherever possible.
The effect of this week’s agreement to impose an EU customs border between Northern Ireland and Britain is simply that the DUP’s brilliant wheeze has come back to bite it. Instead of taking Northern Ireland out of the EU and driving a wedge between it and the Republic, the customs border has been placed between the DUP and the people it supported. This was the least that could have been done to restore the rights of those whose consent was ignored in the original Brexit decision.
There is only one logical thing for the DUP to do now: admit that the game is up, throw its weight behind a second referendum, and campaign to reverse Brexit so that the threatened border never comes into being. That would be something that everybody on these islands should welcome. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – Now is the time for us to reach out to the DUP and humour it. It is the 17th century, and the world is 4,000 years old. – Yours, etc,