Category Archives: Democratic Unionist Party

Foster quits as DUP boss over Brexit. Can we get similar leverage against Boris Johnson?

Gurning, gurning, gone: Arlene Foster, whose support of Theresa May in 2017 deprived the UK of a Labour government led by Jeremy Corbyn, has been forced out of politics after a vote of “no confidence” by her party, the DUP. Why couldn’t it have happened sooner?

The leader of Ulster’s Democratic Unionist Party who propped up Theresa May’s minority Tory government to help push through a disastrous, unpopular exit from the EU is being forced to quit politics.

Arlene Foster, announced that she was resigning as DUP leader on Wednesday, after losing a vote of “no confidence” among party members.

About 80 per cent of the DUP’s Stormont and Westminster ranks signed a letter of no confidence in her leadership.

Brexit has been hugely divisive in Northern Ireland, with the imposition of an artificial trade border in the middle of the Irish Sea considered by many to be a breach of the Good Friday Agreement that ended the so-called ‘Troubles’, 23 years ago.

As a result, violence has flared up in many parts of the province.

Ms Foster supported the UK Conservative governments of Theresa May and Boris Johnson that have brought this division down upon Northern Ireland and it seems she is being made to take responsibility for the result.

She has now announced her intention to quit the DUP altogether, saying it is no longer the party she joined. Sour grapes?

Her future seems assured. Loyalty to the Tories tends to reap rewards for individuals, and it has been suggested that Foster will find her way into the House of Lords, with its £300-per-day salary, just for turning up.

Her fate raises an important question: when will Boris Johnson suffer a similar humiliation?

Johnson was the poster boy for Brexit. He campaigned hard for it in 2015-16, and was noted for his ridiculous red bus with a grotesque lie painted on the side, that money paid to the EU could be spent on the NHS if the UK left.

Trade deals he promised have failed to materialise. The UK’s banking power has been decimated. Exports have fallen dramatically. And the nation’s international influence is waning.

Johnson himself stands accused of serial dishonesty, and of wishing death on thousands of his fellow UK citizens in the midst of the Covid-19 crisis he has mishandled so atrociously.

And yet he remains perversely popular. For how much longer?

Arlene Foster believes the DUP is no longer the party she joined, say sources close to her.

Source: Arlene Foster to quit DUP after leaving leadership roles – BBC News

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As Stormont politicians meet, Northern Ireland violence escalates

Northern Ireland has now endured more than a week of violence related to Boris Johnson’s duff Brexit deal.

Johnson himself has said the violence in West Belfast “deeply concerned” him. He was right – it did, and it should; he is directly responsible for it.

He was told his decision to put a customs border in the middle of the Irish Sea would tear up the Good Friday Agreement, triggering an end to the NI peace process and a return to violence – and he did it anyway.

Northern Ireland doesn’t have a single Conservative member of Parliament; nobody in the province voted to be governed by Johnson (or at least, nobody worth mentioning).

The province’s pro-Brexit Democratic Unionist Party propped up former prime minister Theresa May, and could therefore be said to have paved the way for him. It holds power in the Stormont assembly so This Writer wonders what its representatives have to say for themselves.

Last night alone, police officers were attacked, petrol bombs were thrown and a bus was burnt.

Here’s how it looked:

Police believe paramilitary groups were involved in incidents such as one in which several hundred people on each side were throwing petrol bombs in both directions in the loyalist Shankill Road and the nationalist Springfield Road.

The Shankill Road and Springfield Road in west Belfast are now added to the list that includes Newtownabbey, Carrickfergus, Ballymena and the Waterside area of Londonderry.

The BBC’s report editorialised:

The longer it goes on, the harder it will be to stop.

While it is a comment that should not have been made by a news reporter, This Writer tends to agree with whoever wrote it.

Sadly, with Boris Johnson running the country, he will undoubtedly dither, delay, take a holiday, and probably even hide in a fridge before taking any decisions – and by the time he does, it will probably be too late.

And, as This Site stated yesterday, this is what he wanted. He had been warned repeatedly that it would happen but he did nothing. We have to draw the obvious conclusion from that.

Source: Belfast: Emergency Stormont meeting after night of violence – BBC News

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Weekend Vox Pop: which party has made the stupidest mistake of the election so far, and what was it?

What do you think? I want to hear from you!

Which UK political party has made the biggest fool of itself in the 2019 general election campaign so far?

Was it the Conservative Party? Labour? The Liberal Democrats? Plaid Cymru? The SNP? The Greens? The DUP? Sinn Fein, even?

And what was their error?

Already you have a huge number of cringeworthy gaffes from which to choose.

Please respond using the comment column and I’ll publish some results over the weekend.

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Is Boris Johnson using abortion rights to bribe the DUP into supporting his Brexit deal?

Boris Johnson: The right of women in Northern Ireland to get an abortion if they need it is nothing to do with him – so it is entirely possible that he will cancel it to get his Brexit deal.

Without the Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party supporting his new Brexit deal, Boris Johnson will lose the Parliamentary vote on it tomorrow. So is he bribing Arlene Foster’s group?

The DUP is known to oppose the new legislation championed by Labour MP Stella Creasy to extend abortion rights to Northern Ireland. That change will happen in March 2020 – but only if devolved government in Northern Ireland has not been restored by October 21 – Monday.

Abortion law is a devolved matter but the Northern Irish assembly in Stormont collapsed in January 2017 and the Conservative government has shown little interest in restoring it.

Until now. It seems the government is ramping up efforts to restore the power-sharing devolved government, ending the chance to extend abortion rights into NI.

So it seems the Tories will sell out women across an entire country of the UK to pass its Brexit deal in the most squalid way possible.

Source: Boris Johnson accused of using abortion rights in Northern Ireland as ‘bargaining chip’ to get DUP to back Brexit deal | The Independent

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The DUP wants to know if the Tory magic money tree is paying out again. Will it?

Arlene Foster: A Tory-supporting Twitter troll may be keen to say there’s no “magic money tree” but she’s determined to get as much out of it as she can.

It’s very funny. Hours after I received this tweet…

… I was reminded of an article stating the following:

The Democratic Unionist Party will demand more cash in “the coming weeks” to continue propping up the Conservatives in power, in an early warning to Boris Johnson.

Arlene Foster revealed she spoke with the incoming prime minister soon after his victory was declared – and that she immediately put him on notice.

The DUP leader noted that the £1bn-plus confidence and supply agreement – signed with Theresa May, to deliver her a Commons majority two years ago – “remains”.

But she added: “That agreement included a review between each parliamentary session.

“This will take place over the coming weeks and will explore the policy priorities of both parties for the next parliamentary session.”

The DUP is widely expected to demand an even higher price to renew the agreement, as well as action to thwart prosecutions of soldiers investigated for alleged wrongdoing during the Troubles.

I wonder if the troll running the @NIGELPETERMOOR1 Twitter account (apparently on behalf of South Cambridgeshire Conservative Association) considered the stupidity of an anti-Labour tweet claiming the “magic money tree” doesn’t exist, just as the Tories are being asked to shake it and see what falls out.

As ever, under a Tory government, it seems plenty of money is available for some things – like propping up that Tory government and giving free money to people who are already rich.

But when it comes to actually improving living conditions for the millions of people who live in the UK, they begrudge every penny spent and would take it away if they could.

Will this Twitter troll make that point to @BorisJohnson or is he just another keyboard warrior whistling in the wind?

Source: DUP to demand more cash for propping up Tories ‘in coming weeks’ in early warning to Boris Johnson | The Independent

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Theresa May’s latest Brexit nightmare involves the Queen herself

Not satire: When we finally get a new Parliamentary session, started with the Queen’s Speech, “Well you’ve really made a mess of it all. Shall I get Philip to drive you home?” is about the minimum Mrs May should expect.

All the prevarication and delay over Brexit has backed Theresa May into a tight corner that could end her government – and not a moment too soon.

And it all revolves around the Queen’s Speech.

Each session of Parliament kicks off with a speech from Her Majesty, written by the government, setting out the agenda for the new session. The current session was expected to be two years long because of the extra work necessary to pass Brexit.

But now everything else on the programme has been handled except Brexit, and there’s no conclusion to that nightmare in sight because bringing it back to Parliament may result in another disastrous defeat, and that would force Mrs May to end the session.

It is certainly time to call an end to what has probably been the most disastrous Parliamentary session in UK history – but the Tories can’t do it because they think it may be electoral suicide.

They don’t think they can get majority support for any new legislative programme, you see. And support for the programme – as laid out in the Queen’s Speech – is the bare minimum requirement for any government to show that Parliament has confidence in it.

Without the confidence of Parliament – well, you can probably guess the rest.

Theresa May leads a minority government that has only ever been able to count on the support of the Commons due to a “confidence and supply” arrangement with Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party – but that organisation’s confidence in Mrs May has been in short supply lately and the agreement will expire at the end of the current session. It seems unlikely that it will be renewed without another massive contribution from the magic money tree that the Tories have been telling us all they don’t have.

And Conservatives – including several grandees – are deserting the party due to their own disagreements with the leadership over Brexit and other matters.

So Mrs May is caught in a double-bind.

She can’t keep going because the only thing left is Brexit, and then she’ll have to stop anyway.

But she can’t stop anyway, and start another session, because Parliament will probably force the end of her government with a “no confidence” vote.

So now she is trying to fill up the extra time she thinks she needs with a B-list of weak-sauce Bills that she doesn’t think Parliament would reject.

But the DUP’s Nigel Dodds is already on the record as saying many MPs may not accept that.

She’s unsafe whatever she does, so she is doing nothing. Meanwhile, the UK stagnates. This is what happens when you put a great nation in the hands of a fool, at the head of a party of fools.


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The DUP’s £1 billion ‘bung’ is doing Northern Ireland no good at all

Kiss of death: This is a mock-up, of course, but the relationship between the Conservatives and the Northern Irish DUP is harming the smaller party.

What a stroke of genius for Theresa May – she bribed the DUP to support her minority government at a time when the £1 billion on offer cannot be used to help the people of Northern Ireland.

Claudia Wood’s piece in The Guardian makes it abundantly clear that cash should be going into Northern Ireland’s health and education services – but isn’t.

She states:

A three-week wait for a routine GP appointment isn’t unusual. Hospital referrals are much worse – the 18-week targets English hospitals may miss by a week or two are the stuff of dreams over here, where waits for up to four years (yes, years) for first outpatient appointments are not uncommon. About a third of all patients wait longer than a year and even urgent health consultations have a two-year waiting list in the worst areas.

With fewer than 2 million people living in Northern Ireland, schools are closing because they can’t attract enough pupils. The schools that do have enough pupils to stay open are withering on the vine, with half estimated to be running a deficit this year and some asking parents to donate stationery and toilet rolls.

The money isn’t being sent where it is needed and the reason is simple:

Northern Ireland is also short of a government.

The DUP’s £1bn is being allocated by officials according to designated pots set out in the agreement to prop up the Conservative government in Westminster, but in the absence of ministerial sign-off, big budget items are being tied up.

Popular protests have taken place under the slogan “We deserve better” – and have gone unheard. The DUP has failed to reach a new power-sharing agreement with Sinn Fein, so Northern Ireland limps on with no government.

What will this do for the DUP at the next general election?

Who will support a party that secured a huge amount of money for Northern Ireland, then refused point-blank to take the steps needed to use it in a constructive way?

Unless Arlene Foster changes her mind and concludes a new agreement to get Stormont up and running properly again very soon, she could face annihilation in the next poll, much as the Liberal Democrats did in 2015, after their five years of collaboration with the Conservatives.

It seems the Tories cannot avoid harming their allies.


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This is why you shouldn’t blame Corbyn for refusing to talk with Theresa May

Jeremy Corbyn and Theresa May: He was canny enough to know her offer of cross-party talks was a sham.

After years of ignoring everything apart from her own weird prejudices (think “hostile environment”), it took the biggest loss of a vote in Parliamentary history to bring Theresa May to the negotiating table with other party leaders – we’re told.

She made a great show of opening up to cross-party talks, but all the evidence shows that this is just another delaying tactic.

Even The Sun‘s Tom Newton Dunn thinks so:

If this comment from Richard Burgon is accurate, then it’s clear that Mrs May hasn’t taken the idea of cross-party talks seriously at all:

What is the point of claiming to be prepared to listen to other party leaders if Mrs May has made it clear from the outset that she won’t change anything? None that I can see. How about you?

And that’s why, as Labour Insider states, Mr Corbyn has rejected the offer of talks as a “stunt.” According to that account, he also said “unless the Conservative government removes a no deal Brexit as a possibility then they are not honestly open to working together”.

Mr Corbyn’s demand was echoed by the leaders of the Liberal Democrats, SNP and the Green Party.

And what do we get from the media?

This Sky News interview is typical of the attitude we have seen – and the interviewer’s attitude is atrocious:

And it leads to the kind of nonsense spouted by Hugo Rifkind here:

That will never happen.

It seems clear that Mrs May’s idea of cross-party talks involves her talking to the other parties and them listening. She won’t change a single part of her offer so it seems clear that this is about browbeating other politicians.

And it won’t work for a very simple reason:

The second party of Dave Ward’s tweet raises an interesting question. We know Labour MPs have been talking with the Conservatives – but has it been with an entirely supportive attitude? It seems not:

It seems we have Michael Gove to thank for keeping some Labour MPs on the straight-and-narrow, then!

What about the political leaders who did agree to meet Mrs May?

Here’s Caroline Lucas’s report:

And here’s Nicola Sturgeon:

All of this supports what Steve Howell suggests here:

This rings true. Another Tweeter pointed out that “The last time Jeremy Corbyn had meeting with Theresa May, they agreed timetable for vote on her Brexit deal of Dec 11th. She renegaded on agreement wasting a month. Why should he now believe what she says, not ask for No Deal off the table without which talks have no purpose?”

So we have a situation in which Theresa May has put on a show of being reasonable, when in fact she isn’t being reasonable at all.

And the only reason she was even able to put up this pretence is she was shored up by the DUP. And even this was unreasonable as her deal runs roughshod over Arlene Foster’s red lines. Ian Lavery suggests more realistic rationales for the Northern Irish party’s support:

Gracie Samuels was more blunt:

And Cllr John Edwards wraps the whole situation up in a nice bundle:

How can we have confidence in her? She has delayed democracy in order to present our MPs with an impossible choice; she has bribed another political party to ensure she cannot be ousted; and she has lied to us all about her cross-party talks.

The fault lies with us – the people of the United Kingdom – for allowing a political organisation as venal and corrupt as the Conservative Party to govern us, and for voting in favour of an undefined departure from the European Union in that party’s illegally-influenced referendum.

Have we learned our lesson yet? Or shall we take the lead of the Tories’ media friends and blame Mr Corbyn?

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Tory rebellion inflicts historic defeat on government over ‘guerilla’ bid to stop no-deal Brexit

At last! They took their time about it but 20 Conservative MPs have finally shown that they have spines and rebelled against Theresa May’s threat to inflict a no-deal Brexit on the UK.

They supported Yvette Cooper’s amendment to the Finance Bill (that’s the Budget, isn’t it?) that means the government will have to seek approval from Parliament for tax changes in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

You can find their names here – and they include some high-ranking grandees, although Oliver Letwin and Kenneth Clarke are likely to have supported the Labour amendment for sharply contrasting reasons.

It might not seem like much, but it effectively means Theresa May would be unable to use any money to mitigate effects of such a departure from the EU that would harm her own interests, because Parliament would not allow it.

It is also hugely historic as the first time a government has lost a Finance Bill vote in 41 years. These are treated as “motions of confidence”, meaning that Parliament does not have confidence in the government’s ability to run the UK’s affairs properly, based on the conditions described in the legislation.

The amendment means that if the government wanted to use specific powers in the finance bill to implement “no deal”, it would have to give Parliament a vote first or apply to extend article 50. The amendment doesn’t affect the normal operations of the Treasury and government, but it does make it harder for the government to drift into no deal without parliament being able to direct it.

That’s why Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn turned around and applauded Ms Cooper when the result of the vote was read out.

It also shows that Mrs May’s government has its back against the wall. With 20 Conservatives so committed to foiling a no-deal Brexit that they would back a Labour amendment, she must ensure that her deal is passed by the Commons when it comes to the “meaningful vote” on Tuesday (January 15).

As matters stand at the moment, it won’t.

We have seen from the vote on Ms Cooper’s amendment that the government’s Parliamentary majority is tiny, and depends on all Conservative MPs voting for its legislation, along with the 10 members of the Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party (DUP).

The rebellion over the amendment shows there is not enough support for a “no deal” Brexit. But the DUP will not support her deal without legally binding assurances over the so-called Northern Irish border “backstop” – and the EU has already made it perfectly clear that those assurances aren’t coming.

Mrs May has no options left, it seems.

Of course she could let the clock run down without finding any solution to these issues. But that would be extremely irresponsible and would cement her place in history as the worst failure as prime minister the UK has ever had. She needs to find answers, or accept the fact that she will go down into posterity as a figure of ridicule.

And Opposition MPs are also said to be planning similar amendments to other crucial government legislation, such as the Trade Bill, and legislation on Fisheries and on Healthcare, to ensure that the only way for the government to take the UK out of the EU without a deal would be with the expressed consent of a majority of MPs. This is considered that start of a “guerrilla” campaign against “no deal” Brexit.

Theresa May is now at tipping-point. All her decisions, her cowardice and ineptitude, have led her to this.

She can’t do any more deals because nobody in Europe is interested and she has double-crossed all her possible allies in the UK, simply to get this far.

She can’t offer any more bribes because she has already given away peerages and other honours like sweets, to no avail.

So, what will she do?

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Seven things we learned from Theresa May’s ‘confidence’ vote

Theresa May: Thanks to Conservative MPs, we’ve all been stuck with lame duck for Christmas. And we’ll all be stuffed!

Theresa May – now a lame duck prime minister – hauled herself out onto the steps of 10 Downing Street to make a statement after winning a ‘confidence’ vote in her leadership, held by Conservative MPs.

It wasn’t convincing – but then, neither was her victory. She won by a margin of just 83 votes. Of those who voted for her, 139 were members of the government and were voting to keep themselves in higher-paying jobs. She had support from only around one-third of backbenchers.

And support for her Brexit deal in Parliament can be seen to stand at just 200 votes – although this may change, depending on the corruptibility of MPs’ opinions.

Here’s Graham Brady, announcing the result, followed by Mrs May’s statement:

https://twitter.com/rosskempsell/status/1072967308849676300

So what have we learned from the vote? Consider the following:

1. Mrs May gained four votes fewer than Margaret Thatcher in 1990. Thatcher resigned, but May has said she is determined to continue*.

The vote shows fewer Tory backbenchers support Mrs May than supported John Major when he faced a confidence vote.

By the way, the ConservativeHome website conducted a snap survey of party members that revealed two-thirds of them want Mrs May replaced as leader:

https://twitter.com/Ollie4themany/status/1072960620205670405

2. She only won the votes she had by promising to resign before the next general election*, which suggests that far fewer Tory MPs have real confidence in her leadership than was demonstrated by the result of the ballot.

3. She restored the party whip to two MPs who had been suspended because of sexual misconduct – and allegations of the same. This shows she remains capable of huge failures of judgement.

4. Her Brexit deal is dead; she can only muster 200 votes for it, from among 650 MPs.

… Or is it? Remember, Tories are notorious for lying and going back on their claims. Mrs May has a little time with which to bribe her rebellious backbenchers.

On the other hand…

5. Brexiters in the Conservative Party are a bunch of hypocrites.

But this does not help Mrs May as they oppose her. Mr Rees-Mogg has already stated that he hopes Mrs May will resign:

6. She has given the Democratic Unionist Party another reason to ditch the ‘confidence and supply’ arrangement that keeps her government in office.

https://twitter.com/ToryFibs/status/1072966961624219656

https://twitter.com/ToryFibs/status/1072959949205061632

Add it all together and there’s only one conclusion possible:

7. Winning the confidence vote was the worst result Mrs May could have had.

It will be interesting to see if she does bring her deal back to Parliament next week.

If not, the result will be worse for her.

*I know: What Mrs May says and what she does are two separate things. We’ll have to see whether this is yet another of the lies for which this clergyman’s daughter has now become notorious.

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