Northern Ireland The DUP bites back
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.”