Tag Archives: Arlene Foster

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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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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The end of the affair – and does it also herald the fall of a government?

Partners no more? Theresa May (left) with Arlene Foster, the leader of the DUP, in happier times.

When the Conservative Party announced its marriage of convenience to the Democratic Unionist Party in Northern Ireland, many of us had tears in our eyes.

We were upset that Theresa May had found some stooges who were willing to prop up a minority Conservative government for the sake of a large bung – £1 billion, almost half of which has been delivered – and we were weeping for the future of the country we love.

The honeymoon period – in which we watched the DUP supporting the Tories’ terrible policies time and time again – was bitterly uncomfortable, and no doubt many of us wondered if we would be able to stomach it for the full five-year term of current Tory governments.

Fortunately, it seems unlikely that we will have to put up with it that long.

And it was the Conservative Party – the partner that needed the alliance to succeed – that was unfaithful.

Theresa May ran off to the EU and promised that Brexit would include a deal on the Northern Irish border that the DUP could not tolerate, as it allots special treatment to NI that is not afforded to the rest of the United Kingdom.

Either she had not mentioned it, or she thought she didn’t need to do so, because Tories have such a monumental sense of entitlement that she probably thought the DUP was lucky to be in a “confidence and supply” deal with her.

That was a huge mistake, and a sign that Mrs May doesn’t know her history, which shows that Hell hath no fury like an Irishwoman scorned.

Yesterday evening (November 19), Arlene Foster’s followers in Westminster pointed this out to Mrs May – by abstaining on Budget votes, and actually supporting the Labour Party on one amendment.

It isn’t the end of the deal between the Tories and the DUP – to continue the marriage metaphor, it’s the equivalent of a slighted partner making their displeasure felt and warning that worse may follow if the other partner doesn’t get back in line.

None of the votes had a serious effect on the Conservatives because they did not have financial consequences for the government.

But the message is clear: The deal with the EU, as agreed by Mrs May, is unacceptable to the DUP and the government will lose its Parliamentary majority – and therefore its ability to function – if the prime minister refuses to change it.

Now for the important part: This puts Mrs May in an impossible position.

The EU will not accept changes to the deal, and it seems unlikely that it will be possible to negotiate a new agreement before the UK decouples from that bloc on March 29 next year.

But the alternative is an effective vote of “no confidence” in the Conservatives’ ability to govern, which traditionally leads to the resignation of the government and the main Opposition party taking office.

The current Tory government is an unscrupulous crowd, and may refuse to honour that convention – but the alternative is powerlessness. What will Mrs May do?

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DUP spad wanted to ‘fill our boots’ with GB money. Nice to know who Theresa May’s friends are

Andrew Crawford: “Fill our boots”.

A long-standing special advisor of DUP leader Arlene Foster said he thought “we could fill our boots” with money from Westminster, via the scandalous Renewable Heat Initiative (RHI), it has been claimed.

Ms Foster set up the RHI when she was Northern Ireland’s Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Investment. She failed to introduce proper cost controls.

As the scheme worked by paying applicants to use renewable energy, and the rate paid was more than the cost of the fuel, applicants were making profits simply by heating their properties and costs went out of control.

On the final day of a public inquiry into what became known as the Cash For Ash scandal, senior civil servant Dr Andrew McCormick related a conversation he had with Andrew Crawford, Ms Foster’s special advisor.

Mr Crawford has always denied that he tried to delay efforts to rein in the schemes costs in mid-2015, when it became clear that they were out of control.

But Dr McCormick told the inquiry he said in late October 2016, around a month before RHI became a huge political scandal, “I thought this was AME [Treasury funding, rather than from Stormont’s budget] and we could fill our boots.”

The inquiry has already uncovered an email which shows that Dr Crawford felt it could be good to overspend on RHI because it was GB money.

The resulting scandal led to the dissolution of the Northern Irish government and the failure of efforts to form a new power-sharing deal means that part of the UK still has no government today.

The RHI scheme, overseen by the DUP, has potentially cost the public purse almost £500 million.

And these are the people Theresa May offered a further £1 billion to prop up her minority Conservative government in Westminster.

There’s an old saying – “If you want to know someone, just look at their friends.”

Perhaps we should remember this when Philip Hammond announces his latest budget.

It seems these Conservatives are allied with people who deliberately sprayed our money up the wall – for no other reason than that they could.

Source: DUP Spad told me “we could fill our boots” with RHI cash, says top civil servant – Belfast Newsletter

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Theresa May torpedoed her own Brexit deal – by forgetting to tell her DUP partners the details

Oops: Theresa May probably looked as shell-shocked as this image after she took her call from Arlene Foster and realised her career is on the brink of disaster.

Is this the stupidest mistake ever made by a United Kingdom prime minister?

Theresa May seemed to be at the verge of signing an agreement with the EU27 on the vexed issue of the border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland – meaning she would have met the deadline for Brexit talks to have made enough progress to move onto trading conditions. Here’s an excited Donald Tusk:

And an equally-excited Laura Kuenssberg believed it was a done deal too:

But what exactly was the deal? Here’s Robert Rea to explain:

Wait. What? The deal means a different regulatory framework for Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK? But the DUP won’t agree, because it wants Northern Ireland to function on the same terms as the rest of the UK? Isn’t that a big problem?

And we’d also need ECJ jurisdiction to make it work. In other words, we might as well remain in the EU, it seems – unless we’re really desperate for worse trading conditions with the EU27 than we currently enjoy.

Of course it didn’t come to that in the end. As Mrs May was settling down to her working lunch with Jean-Claude Juncker, DUP leader Arlene Foster convened a press conference in the UK.

She said: “We have been very clear. Northern Ireland must leave the EU on the same terms as the rest of the United Kingdom. We will not accept any form of regulatory divergence which separates Northern Ireland economically or politically from the rest of the United Kingdom. The economic and constitutional integrity of the United Kingdom will not be compromised in any way.

“Her Majesty’s Government understands the DUP position. The Prime Minister has told the House of Commons that there will be no border in the Irish Sea. The Prime Minister has been clear that the UK is leaving the European Union as a whole and the territorial and economic integrity of the United Kingdom will be protected.

“We want to see a sensible Brexit where the Common Travel Area is continued, we meet our financial obligations, have a strictly time-limited implementation period and where the contribution of EU migrants to our economy is recognised in a practical manner.”

The Guardian tells us: “May was forced to pause discussions to take a call from Arlene Foster. The unionist leader, whose party currently provides the Tories with a working majority in the Commons, told the British prime minister that she could not support Downing Street’s planned commitment to keep Northern Ireland aligned with EU laws.”

The Guardian added: “In London, Tory Brexiters, including Iain Duncan Smith and Jacob Rees-Mogg, told the Brexit minister Steve Baker, and the prime minister’s chief of staff, Gavin Barwell, that they were also rallying behind the DUP’s stance.”

Here’s the bombshell:

This appears to be correct. The Guardian again: “The DUP’s fury had prompted by a leak early on Monday of a draft 15-page joint statement from the European commission and the UK which suggested Britain had bowed to the Republic of Ireland’s demands by accepting that ‘in the absence of agreed solutions the UK will ensure that there continues to be continued regulatory alignment’ with the internal market and customs union.”

The irony is that Mrs May had to ally with the DUP after losing her Parliamentary majority in a general election she called in order to solidify support for her version of – you guessed it – Brexit. To retain her role as prime minister, she made it impossible to achieve the stated aim of the election.

So Jeremy Corbyn was right on the button when he tweeted the following:

And so was Paul Lewis:

What next? Well, Mrs May won’t be giving the “major statement” she had planned to offer to the House of Commons tomorrow:

The Independent has speculated that her failure to reach an agreement over the Irish border could bring Mrs May’s premiership to a crashing end (and not a moment too soon, in This Writer’s opinion):

“In history, some British Prime Ministers have had their premierships wrecked by the “Irish Question”. Others, in more recent times, have been destroyed by Europe. Theresa May is unique in managing to combine both famously intractable and insoluble issues into one lethal cocktail. And so, it seems she is about to swallow the poison.

“The Government is perfectly happy to concede ‘special status’ for Northern Ireland/Ireland in the Brexit talks – anathema to the Ulster Unionists. This is because the Government desperately needs to get onto the second phase of the process – the trade talks for the whole UK – and MPs, without being too crude about it, are happy to sign whatever the EU sticks under their nose and worry about the consequences later.

“In the end, they will risk their support from the DUP to get moving on Brexit. Jobs (Tory MPs’ included) are at stake. After all, ministers such as David Davis always say that “nothing’s agreed until everything’s agreed”, so having now ratted on the Democratic Unionists, they can, in due course, re-rat on the Irish and the EU, after a trade deal is sorted out.

“With a bit of luck, some creative ambiguity and some more bribes and false promises for the DUP, Theresa May might just pull it off. Perfidious Albion would have foxed the Unionists in the wider national (i.e. Tory) interest.

“For such an unlucky Prime Minister, it would be a bit of a turnaround – but, as in horse-racing and football, the form book does count for something; the litany of May’s calamities suggest she won’t, in fact, get away with it.

“The DUP could quite conceivably get so angry that they’d scrap their agreement with the Tory-minority Government and resolve to get rid of them. Then May would have to appeal to the Opposition parties, especially Labour, to rescue her in the Commons.

“Fat chance. If Corbyn wants, he could find any number of grounds for voting May out of office, but failure of Brexit is a pretty good one. He could then either cobble together a new Frankenstein coalition or, more realistically, follow the provisions of the Fixed Term Parliament Act to secure a fresh general election. With an eight-point poll lead over the Conservatives, wouldn’t you?

“Of course that would mean the DUP would let in the “Sinn Fein-loving Corbyn” (as they might see it), so they’d have a tough choice, but they might have sufficient fear about what their constituents in Ulster would do to them if they kept the treacherous Tories in power that they’d feel they have nothing to lose.

“In which case we’d have an election in, say, February.

“The incoming government would ask, if it was sensible, to put Brexit on pause while it changes policy, and the EU would happily oblige if there was a chance of reversing Brexit – via, say, a second referendum. Or Corbyn and Keir Starmer could just agree to stay in the single market and some version of the customs union. Arlene Foster might in fact be able to live with that.

“In which case, by spring, it would all be over for May, Boris, Gove and the old gang, and they could get on with their civil war in earnest.”

While we await that development, we’ve had this one. The Guardian, yet again: “The news was then seized upon by Scotland’s first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, who suggested that any promise for Northern Ireland could be replicated for Scotland. That call was followed by similar suggestions from the London mayor, Sadiq Khan.”

Apres nous, le deluge (“after us, the flood”, for those who don’t know their French, or the history of the French Revolution).  Others leapt in to demand the same considerations, leading to the following (semi-)satirical comments:

But is this tweet satirical or not?

Time will tell. Tick tock, Tories…


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What does McGuinness’s resignation mean for Northern Ireland’s future in the UK?

Martin McGuinness said in his resignation statement that the position of the first minister, Arlene Foster, was untenable [Image: Jeff Spicer/PA].

Could Northern Ireland split from the United Kingdom as a result of Martin McGuinness’s resignation?

The province voted very heavily in favour of Remaining in the European Union in the referendum last June, and the Northern Irish peace process depends on adherence to the European Convention on Human Rights – from which the UK would depart when it leaves the EU.

Put those things together with an opportunity to elect a leadership that supports reintegration with the Republic and suddenly it seems the Union may be in more imminent danger than anybody thought – even with the threat of another Scottish independence referendum over ‘hard’ Brexit.

Then again, a huge majority of the population opposes anything that may bring about a resumption of ‘The Troubles’, as they were known, so that possibility must also be taken into consideration.

Mr McGuinness’s resignation appears to be mostly about the “Cash for Ash” scandal, a failed green energy scheme likely to cost the Northern Irish taxpayer around £400 million.

NI First Minister Arlene Foster has refused to step down, even temporarily, to allow an independent inquiry to take place.

So Mr McGuinness resigned, forcing a new NI Assembly election. This means Ms Foster cannot remain as First Minister.

If the balance of power shifts to give Sinn Fein the upper hand, it seems likely that a long period of negotiation will be necessary before a new government may be announced.

Who knows what the result of those negotiations will be?

Martin McGuinness, Northern Ireland’s deputy first minister, has resigned from office in protest over his power-sharing partner’s handling of a bungled green energy scheme.

McGuinness’s resignation means a new Northern Ireland assembly election is inevitable.

Under the complex rules of power-sharing in the region, if either the first minister or the deputy resigns the coalition government between unionists and nationalists falls.

Source: Martin McGuinness resigns as deputy first minister of Northern Ireland | Politics | The Guardian

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