In his letter to you last week criticising the CBI, Christopher Stalford appears to misunderstand that group’s purpose.
Focussed on short-to-medium term timelines, they speak for local business to convey concerns to government.
There’s severe concern on trade being disrupted under a ‘no deal’ scenario, and a matter of weeks to prepare for that.
Mr Stalford made no effort to rebut the CBI’s argument, but sought to delegitimise them, having dared voice their concerns.
With the usual class, Sammy Wilson added the CBI and UFU were “puppets of the Northern Ireland Office”.
You can disagree with Theresa May’s appalling agreement without freely insulting business leaders who have done far more to create jobs than DUP/Sinn Féin.
Perhaps there’s a DUP competition to find new communities to alienate.
Mr Stalford knows Northern Ireland’s business leaders, privately scathing about DUP/Sinn Féin cannot answer back in kind.
If they did, they might relish the opportunity to mark each other’s homework. It was not, after all, the CBI striking deals with the Prime Minister.
The DUP have had one job – safeguard our place in the Union throughout Brexit. They reviewed and suggested changes to the backstop last December, even boasting they’d ‘done over’ the Irish Government.
Such incompetence – the current agreement keeps us under European Courts, locked into a Customs Union, and cuts us off from the mainland!
We must ask why a unionist Prime Minister can throw Ulster under the bus.
Well, as Mr Stalford invited us to do with the CBI, we can look at DUP’s past behaviour.
In 2010 David Cameron faced a hung parliament and approached the DUP. The Daily Telegraph commented they “have of late displayed a decidedly mercenary approach to political deal-making”. A senior Tory said “…the DUP’s poverty of ambition is depressing. We are offering a completely different message – Ulster MPs sitting as ministers, chatting to George Osborne in the tea rooms, that’s real power. By effectively demanding financial bribes for Northern Ireland…the DUP show themselves to be both unprincipled and rather pathetic.”
Before the 2015 election Ian Paisley Jr demanded “hundreds of millions” from David Cameron in return for support, adding “We don’t want cabinet positions, we don’t want to be part of a formal government arrangement.”
In the current deal, the DUP demanded £2 billion from Theresa May, to keep Marxist, Sinn Féin-supporting Jeremy Corbyn becoming PM.
By so doing, the DUP not only weakened their ability to get proper assurances on Ulster – when these risks were already clear – they also made it clear to all MPs and the British public what their Unionism is about: rinsing London of as much cash as possible in a way that would make Sinn Féin blush. If our MPs don’t take our Union seriously, why should we expect the Prime Minister to behave differently?
I’m glad the DUP oppose Theresa May’s horrendous deal. But this is like repeatedly crashing a friend’s car into a wall and then boasting you’ll pay to get it fixed.
The DUP have failed utterly to protect our Union, and now Brexit itself – of which they ironically claimed to be the champions – is threatened.
Forget the distractions, huffing and puffing. The question is not why we should trust the CBI – it is how on earth we are to be expected to trust the DUP? An apology is due to us all.
Carl McClean, UUP councillor, Ards and North Down