Friday, 9 June 2017

Be careful what you wish for ...

An astonishing end to the unnecessary 'Brexit election' in which the major parties conspired to ignore the issue of Brexit as much as possible.
It seems that Mrs May's government will - for now- attempt to struggle on with the help of the traditionally ultra-protestant Democratic Unionist Party of Northern Ireland.
The political complexion and chequered history of the DUP (these are not the more moderate 'Official Unionists,' but a party which has been seen in the past to flirt with so-called 'loyalist' paramilitary groups) also gives many people  - on the centre right, as well as the centre and the left -  profound cause for concern if it is now in a position to exercise leverage over the policies of the Westminster government.

This is Jonathan Powell, Tony Blair's chief of staff, and someone instrumental in helping to negotiate the peace process culminating in the Good Friday agreement and tge power sharing executive in Northern Ireland, speaking of his very serious concerns about Theresa May's 'deal' with the DUP and its implications for the life of the province:

"I do think it’s a mistake to go into government with the “support of our friends” in the DUP. Even John Major avoided doing that and the reason he avoided that is the peace process is based on a balance that the British government has made it clear it is neutral in Northern Ireland, it doesn’t take sides. Once you have their support you are no longer neutral.

It matters for two big reasons. First, we haven’t managed to get the executive back up and running in Northern Ireland because of divisions between the two sides. The British government were trying to mediate between the two sides to get an administration up and running again and of course now it can’t possibly have that role of mediating.

And secondly I think it’s a mistake because one of the big issues in the Brexit negotiations is the border between north and south. Now the DUP is a minority in its view about Brexit, it’s in favour of Brexit. This is going to be a very real problem.

Whatever you put on a piece of paper, you’re living there with a minority government, that’s dependant on the DUP, you get to a crucial issue and then they say, ‘Remember what we want in terms of talks in Northern Ireland’, and the government has a choice: do they say, ‘We’re not giving you that, we’ll let the government collapse’, or do they just bend a little on that issue, it’s just one small issue it doesn’t matter. But beyond that the government can’t possibly be seen as neutral on Northern Ireland now if it puts itself at the mercy of the DUP"

[Source: The Guardian]

We leave it to the reader to judge the ethics of an administration attempting to hold on to office regardless of the likely damage to the country's peace and security ...

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