North­ern Ire­land The DUP bites back

The Observer - - Focus -

Theresa May has re­lied on the sup­port of the Demo­cratic Union­ist party’s 10 MPs since last year’s election. In re­turn for its back­ing, how­ever, the DUP drew up a se­ries of red lines. Now it is threat­en­ing to vote down the bud­get and crip­ple May’s govern­ment if its de­mands on Brexit are not met. Above all, it de­mands that noth­ing must com­pro­mise North­ern Ire­land’s sta­tus in the union or sep­a­rate it in any way from the rest of the UK.

The DUP dis­misses the EU’s sug­ges­tion that North­ern Ire­land should stay in EU cus­toms ar­range­ments and re­jects the idea its reg­u­la­tory regime could be more closely aligned to the EU than the rest of the UK. It will not ac­cept a bor­der in the Ir­ish Sea. The steps the Eu­ro­pean com­mis­sion re­gards as es­sen­tial to re­tain the in­tegrity of the sin­gle mar­ket, while avoid­ing a hard bor­der would, the DUP says, un­der­mine its po­si­tion as part of the UK. The DUP leader Ar­lene Foster, be­low, said last week: “I am a union­ist, I be­lieve in the union of the United King­dom, all four el­e­ments of the United King­dom. We do not want North­ern Ire­land go­ing off in a dif­fer­ent di­rec­tion.”

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