DUP had little option but to make the Brexit statement it did

News Letter editorial
News Letter editorial

Yesterday’s DUP Brexit statement was welcome.

It said that the prime minister had “missed an opportunity” to put forward proposals which could have made the Withdrawal Agreement (WA) more acceptable (see page 20).

“Nothing has changed as far as the Withdrawal Agreement is concerned,” said the party.

While Theresa May did not seek to reopen the WA after the Brady amendment, in which MPs demanded changes to the backstop, it is only fair to the prime minister to recognise that the EU made clear the WA would not be altered.

Therefore, we are only now where we would have expected to be, unless the various assurances on the backstop since then were going to be sufficient on the DUP, whose position was evidently changing.

The party has been under huge pressure, including the implicit threat from Michael Gove on consulting Dublin on direct rule if the WA. Sinn Fein, who proved themselves as political wreckers since 2017, have had no such pressure put on them by London. But a supposedly Tory and unionist government exerts pressure on a DUP that props it up to accept a deal that inflicts constitutional damage.

Even so, it is hard to see how the DUP could have backed this WA, and particularly after the attorney general confirmed that the UK might be trapped in it.

There are certain things that on principle cannot be accepted just because of fear of its imposition.