Dramatic day for UK politics, with unknowable impact

Morning View
Morning View

It was a dramatic day politically for Northern Ireland and the United Kingdom yesterday.

The unanimous judgement by the Court of Appeal in Belfast puts further pressure on the government over the absurd situation that prevails with regard to civil servants running the Province.

But the government has seemingly not been prepared to countenance direct rule, and Sinn Fein has brought down Stormont subject to its red lines being met (which have rotated over time and some of which have dropped).

Where then will it go from this ruling? With varying force, Dublin has made clear that it will not accept direct rule, as have nationalists. Even the Alliance Party, which rejects joint authority, says that direct rule cannot return without an increased say for the Irish government.

This is an unsettling time for unionism. The DUP holds the balance of power, but last night the government showed it will if need be stand up to a large blocs of key MPs, in this case the Brexit wing of the Tory party.

Unionists can, it seems, take comfort from the fact that Theresa May has not chosen to implement a border in the Irish Sea, instead staying close to the EU to alleviate the land border. But the closeness of the proposed relationship, the details of which are being absorbed, raise questions as to whether such a Brexit is even worth it and shows how fragile the government is. A backlash against this almost certain, which could yet paralyse government.