The DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds tells the News Letter today that Theresa May has “humiliated” the UK by accepting a six- month delay to Brexit, until October 31.
He says such an outcome was inevitable after the prime minister decided “any deal is preferable to no deal”.
Arlene Foster, the DUP leader, meanwhile has been similarly scathing in an interview with the Press Association, which we also report today. Mrs Foster said: “Three years since the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union we should have left by now.”
While the DUP top team are right in their assessment of the weak negotiating that led us to this pass, it is far from clear how to get a better outcome.
A delay is a good thing if it leads to a more robust line from London. But that is already not so. Downing Street says that it has stood down emergency planning for ‘no deal’.
That means that it has dismissed the advice of Mervyn King, one of the most experienced economic experts in the world, having been Bank of England governor. Mr King advised the UK to take six months to prepare for no deal, which would be better than the disastrous Withdrawal Agreement (WA). The UK now has the six months, but plans not to use it.
Note that talk of reopening the WA was abandoned as soon as it was mooted after the Brady amendment showed that the House of Commons could rally round a way forward, if the backstop was to go. It is clear that Mrs May simply will not harden her demands of the EU.
The only hope now is that a different personality becomes leader, and certainly not a caretaker such as David Lidington MP, who would be no more demanding than Mrs May.
There is no way to challenge Mrs May as Tory leader until December, but if she plainly loses the support of her backbenchers, she will not stay that long. The DUP was at Brussels yesterday with Ian Duncan Smith and Owen Paterson. Wisely, the party is staying close to the Brexiteer wing, which is more popular with the country than the more pro EU Tories.