Brain of Brexit fears DUP could be bought into backstop U-turn

One of the key brains of the Brexit campaign has expressed concern that the DUP might do a U-turn on the backstop in return for money.

Monday, 18th March 2019, 5:30 pm
Updated Monday, 18th March 2019, 6:51 pm
Dan Hannan, Conservative MEP and longstanding Euroseceptic, said unionism 'has a materialistic side'
Dan Hannan, Conservative MEP and longstanding Euroseceptic, said unionism 'has a materialistic side'

In comments which are implicitly withering, Dan Hannan said it was possible that the DUP would back down because “unionism has a materialistic side”.

Two weeks ago Mr Hannan said that “government strategists believe that the DUP is looking for an excuse to climb down and that, if it does so, the ERG will follow”.

Writing in The Daily Telegraph, Mr Hannan, a Tory intellectual who is respected on the right of the Conservative Party, noted the reports of Mrs May hoping “to induce the DUP to vote for a deal that has been expressly designed to weaken the Union”.

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He said that under the backstop “Northern Ireland would remain under the regulatory control of the EU, but have no representation there.

“Already, Dublin politicians are discussing mechanisms to ensure that the interests of ‘the North’ are formally upheld by the Republic, rather as Greek Cyprus notionally represents Turkish Cypriots in EU institutions.

“It is possible, I suppose, that the DUP will back down. Unionism has a materialistic side that English observers often miss. The chancellor of the exchequer has reportedly been involved in the discussions, raising suspicions that the government aims to buy the canny Ulstermen and Ulsterwomen.

“They may succeed, but one should never underestimate the patriotism that motivates most unionists, nor their bloody-mindedness – their thrawnness to use a good Ulster-Scots word – when they have set their course. Will they really vote for a deal whose author boasts that Northern Ireland is ‘the price’ Britain must pay for Brexit?”

He said that Brussels was “looking on with incredulous joy” at how the UK had chosen to “deliberately and publicly weaken itself” in voting not to leave without the EU’s permission. By deciding not to “crash out” with “no deal”, he said that MPs had “left only two options: either to accept the EU’s vindictive terms or, for now, to stay put. Eurocrats are happy with either outcome”.