Agreeing the backstop was a massive UK mistake

News Letter editorial
News Letter editorial
Share this article

The DUP is right to emphasise, as Nigel Dodds did last night, that avoiding the separation of Northern Ireland from Great Britain is the party’s over-riding priority.

It had seemed recently to be moving towards supporting the Withdrawal Agreement (WA), albeit under massive pressure to do so.

Now a remarkable thing has happened. Some of the most emphatic Tory opponents of the deal, including Boris Johnson and Jacob-Rees Mogg, have supported it, while the DUP, which had latterly seemed more open to the deal than Tory Brexiteers, has become increasingly opposed.

The backstop is a travesty, that could yet mean the end of the UK. Today we report, on page 7, a remarkable journalistic account of the time that the backstop came into play, in December 2017, and the EU’s apparent disbelief that Britain even accepted such a bold proposal.

But it quickly became clear that the UK had made a massive mistake in doing so. Theresa May seemed even to realise that herself, but once she had given her word to the EU, it was never going to retreat.

Ireland has been at the forefront of the unreasonable scope of the EU demand — that in effect NI always be tied to EU customs and regulatory policy. Now it has helped bring about a situation in which either ‘no deal’ or Remain look highly possible. Both will lead to huge UK internal resentment.