MPs will decide today whether or not Boris Johnson’s Brexit agreement will move towards becoming the method by which the UK leaves the European Union.
The DUP has made clear that it will not be supporting the proposal, which would establish a major border in the Irish Sea, at odds with the pledges publicly given to the party last year at its conference.
The party tried hard to help the prime minister get a deal over the line, and even made the troubling (but understandable in the circumstances) concession of agreeing checks for standards of goods between NI-Great Britain.
This generosity, which was so difficult for a unionist party, was immediately dismissed by the EU and Ireland who would not allow a tariff border on this island. Mr Johnson supported such a land border, policed by technology, while the DUP conceded goods checks at ports.
Two weeks after the EU intransigence, Mr Johnson climbed down and backed a full border in the Irish Sea.
It isn’t quite the worst outcome, because NI stays in UK customs territory. But it collects EU tariffs in Irish Sea.
There is no disguising the major shift that this is towards all-island trade control, at expense of east-west.
There is a case that it will have some benefits to NI business, but it is even so an economic step away from the UK.
We hope that Tory MPs who support the Union will respond to the DUP’s plea for support in rejecting the deal.