Editorial: Possible hints of much needed help from London for unionists

News Letter editorial on Saturday November 18 2023:
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​No matter how much it is ignored elsewhere, this newspaper will say it.

Sinn Fein, a party that wants Northern Ireland to fail, was allowed to bring down Stormont in 2017, ostensibly over the cash-for-ash scandal, but keeping it down until it got its non negotiable Irish language act.

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During this time the party faced none of the pressure that the DUP has faced from the media, from business, and so on. By 2018 much of the DUP had agreed that SF must get its Irish language act, which ultimately it did.

The DUP stand has been on a far more important matter, that goes to the principle of consent: the UK giving up control of trade in part of its territory, NI, where EU law prevails. While the DUP made a grievous mistake to accept a first draft regulatory border in early October 2019, regardless of the concessions it felt Boris Johnson had given, it has been vindicated in its later stance against Mr Johnson’s fuller NI Protocol – a border so bad that not even the EU ultimately sought its ‘rigorous implementation’.

The DUP was further right not to rush back to Stormont for the Windsor Framework hype, when we are still trying to assess the scale of the border. Now Sir Jeffrey Donaldson says there is progress on free flowing goods not just from NI to the mainland but, crucially, the more problematic other direction – surprising but encouraging news.

It is past time the government helped unionists, particularly in light of developments such as the claim from Suella Braverman that she pushed for the NI Protocol bill – like Liz Truss, she saw the importance of that legislation, yet it was ditched. Another Stormont problem is Sinn Fein’s atrocious response to Hamas. Rishi Sunak and Keir Starmer rightly show unwavering support for Israel, indeed do not tolerate internal dissent from that line, yet keep pressure on unionists to get back in power with Israel’s most implacable political enemies in Europe.