The proposals published by the Prime Minister for our future relationship with the EU confirm what most of us feared: that Northern Ireland will, if this agreement proceeds, effectively have a ‘special status’ within the EU but be different from the rest of the UK in the long term.
An analysis of the backstop proposal published last Decembe, spelled out that this would happen, as it was riddled with contradictions and elevated the so-called Irish border problem to a far greater extent that was warranted.
Last year the DUP told us that they had great influence with the Government.
On September 1, 2017, Arlene Foster said ‘Unionism has never had so much influence in Parliament’.
On November 25, 2017, at her party conference she said that ‘more votes means more seats which means more influence’.
On that same date, Nigel Dodds said: ‘Today, it is the DUP that stands at the heart of government, not in Northern Ireland, but across the UK.’
Fast forward to Thursday and the House of Commons. What did Nigel reveal there? I quote from Hansard: ‘I stand here today and take the Prime Minister through the list of promises and pledges she made to this House and to us privately, about the future of Northern Ireland in the future relationship with the EU, but I fear it would be a waste of time, since she clearly does not listen.’
A total admission of failure by Nigel Dodds.
The people have been misled into thinking that their interests were being protected by the DUP at Westminster. They were not.
As Robin Swann said at the weekend, they were asleep at the wheel and so puffed up with their own self-importance that they made a strategic blunder of unprecedented proportions by allowing the backstop to go unchallenged last year.
The primary function of any unionist is to protect the Union. In this the DUP have failed terribly. They have nobody else to blame for the mess this time – it’s down to them and them alone for failing to protect Northern Ireland’s interests.
Sir Reg Empey, former Ulster Unionist leader