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.
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They’re together again, it seems: The on-again, off-again romance between the Tories and the DUP seems to be back on – but does it make a difference?
It seemed – on Monday – that the game was up for Theresa May and her Tory government.
Not only did she lose vote after vote in the House of Commons, but it seemed her allies in the Democratic Unionist Party had switched loyalties to Jeremy Corbyn, in frustration with her policy failure on the Northern Irish border.
DUP threaten to pull their support for Theresa May if her Brexit deal is passed | Daily Mail Online https://t.co/sHkc4I4OKT
If you’ve understood all of the above, then it should be clear that the DUP’s change doesn’t actually make a lot of difference.
The Grieve amendment puts power to affect the UK’s policy on Brexit back in the hands of Parliament, rather than allowing Mrs May’s government carte blanche to do what it likes.
It means that, when she loses the vote over her fatally-flawed Brexit deal with the EU, Parliament may direct the government to take any of several possible choices – including going back to the people for another referendum.
There are only 10 DUP members of Parliament. Many more members of the Parliamentary Conservative Party support Brexit and don’t want to see a second referendum.
When the government is defeated in the Brexit vote, the very next decision the Commons will have to make is whether they have confidence in Mrs May’s government. This is where the DUP’s support had been considered vital.
But if the continuation of Mrs May’s government means a chance of a second referendum, it is possible that her own backbenchers may rebel, and bring her down – simply to ensure that Brexit isn’t stopped by the will of the people.
It would then be up to a future government – possibly a Labour government – to sort out the mess.
So it seems Conservative MPs could end up voting for a Labour government.
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.
Gratitude is due to the Beast for finding David Rosenberg’s article, showing the undemocratic nature of the organisations claiming to attack Jeremy Corbyn with allegations of anti-Semitism.
Mr Rosenberg demonstrates that these organisations have no right to act as representatives of Jewish people – and are unlikely even to have consulted what they consider to be their constituency before attacking Mr Corbyn.
It seems the reasons for their behaviour have more to do with their own right-wing ideology, rather than any interest in protecting the people they only claim to represent.
See for yourself:
David Rosenberg on Saturday put up a long, excellent piece, arguing that it was time Jeremy Corbyn called the bluff on the various Jewish leaders and organisations trying to topple him. They’re not interested in combating anti-Semitism, only in saving Tweezer’s hide and stopping people criticising Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians.
He talks about how, after the latest stupid accusation of anti-Semitism against Corbyn, he didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. He cried, because he thought of the ordinary people of Britain, including a significant number of Jews, who are struggling to cope, thanks to the Tories. He’s also deeply concerned about the plight of the homeless, and considers it ‘criminal’ if the current government of Food Bank Britain, the Windrush Scandal, Grenfell Tower, Zero Hours Contracts and Yarl’s Wood detention centre gets in again thanks to these fake accusations of anti-Semitism.
He describes his fantasy, that one day Corbyn will meet the right-wing Jewish leaders making these accusations, and ask them for their opinion on topics like the renationalisation of the railways. When they reply, ‘We’ll have to consult our community’, he replies that they knew very well, without any consultation, how their community felt about the adoption of the I.H.R.A. definition of anti-Semitism.
And he describes very clearly how unrepresentative the Board of Deputies is of the Jewish community as a whole.
“But he’s got to speak to Jewish leaders – we elected them. Didn’t we? No, very few of us Jews did that. Jewish Leadership Council? Unelected. They just announced themselves. Chief Rabbi? No, appointed not elected. Campaign Against Antisemitism? Where the hell did they come from? Completely unelected. Ah, but the Board of Deputies – some of them are elected. No? Well, in theory, yes. If you are a member of a synagogue you might get a vote, but in some synagogues not if you are a woman. How many elections are contested? What percentage of voters take part? When did your synagogue last change its deputy? What – as long ago as that? And then there are a lot of Jews are not members of synagogues. Hmmm, that’s a problem. And, at the end of the day, decisions of the Board are made by paid officers not ordinary elected members.”
Their partners-in-government, the Northern Irish DUP, have made it abundantly clear that they will not tolerate any hardening of borders between NI and the rest of the UK – and rightly so, in the opinion of This Writer.
But this clashes with the Good Friday Agreement that demands an open border with the Irish Republic; the problem is that the republic is in the EU and the UK must have a hard border with that bloc after Brexit.
So the Tories are preparing to stab the DUP in the back. Typical Tories.
There is no good answer to the issue. Ireland is in the EU and the UK must have a hard border with the EU and an open border with Ireland. It is not possible to resolve this – other than by imposing a hard border between NI and the rest of the UK.
Will this dissolve the agreement between the DUP and the Conservatives? Their pact depends on the NI party supporting the Tories on Brexit and this will not be possible if the Tories go through with the plan being proposed now.
And with the Lords dishing out defeat after defeat for the Tories on the EU Withdrawal Bill, this puts Theresa May and her cronies in a highly tricky situation.
One way or another, it seems the barricades will be going up soon.
A backup plan to impose border checks on trade between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK at ports and airports to avoid a hard border with the Republic of Ireland after Brexit has been drafted by senior civil servants.
Despite the Democratic Unionist party (DUP) angrily rejecting any suggestion of a border “in the Irish Sea”, a leaked paper reveals that officials have been working on a blueprint “to be deployed as necessary in the negotiation process”.
The confidence and supply agreement was signed in Downing Street between the DUP and the Conservatives [Image: Daniel Leal-Olivas/PA].
Even those who want to see the money go to Northern Ireland, despite the way in which it has been provided, have to agree that Ms Miller and her supporters have a point.
Wouldn’t you agree?
Britain’s government has been threatened with legal action by an anti-Brexit campaigner and a union over the deal Prime Minister Theresa May struck with a Northern Irish party to keep her Conservatives in power after her botched election last year.
Ministers have been sent a legal letter warning that 50 million pounds of funding for the province, part of a £1 billion deal agreed between May and the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) – was unlawful because it was made without parliamentary agreement.
The challenge has been brought by Investment manager Gina Miller, who successfully won a court battle in 2017 to force the government to seek parliamentary approval before starting divorce talks with the European Union, and the Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain (IWGB).
“It beggars belief that this government is once again putting itself above the law and seeking to undermine the normal constitutional and legal processes,” Miller said in a statement.
“Spending public money requires proper parliamentary scrutiny and accountability – and the making of these payments is no different.”
Partners in secrecy: Theresa May (left) with Arlene Foster, the leader of the DUP [Image: Carl Court/Getty Images].
This makes a mockery of referendum campaign transparency.
What is the origin of this money?
If it is all above-board, why has the donor not come forward voluntarily?
And, if it is legitimate, why has James Brokenshire of the Tory government done everything in his power to keep the facts hidden?
An obscure parliamentary committee has voted to continue to keep secret the source of a £425,000 donation to the Democratic Unionist Party, that was spent on wrap-around pro-Brexit advertising in the Metro newspaper during the EU referendum.
It means that changes to the rules for the publication of donors to Northern Irish political parties will only apply to donations made after the 1st July 2017, and will not be backdated to 2014 in accordance with previously agreed legislation.
It also means that the source of the £425,000 donation, the largest to any Northern Irish political party in history, and which has largely been seen as a device through which to donate anonymously to the Brexit campaign, will not be revealed.
The donation has been named as coming from a group of businessmen called the Constitutional Research Council (CRC), though the ultimate source of their cash has not been confirmed.
£282,000 was spent on a wrap around advertisements on the Metro newspaper, saying “Vote Leave. Take Back Control” under Democratic Unionist Party branding. Some of the money was also paid to a data company linked to the analytics firm who worked for the Brexit campaign, Cambridge Analytica.
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:
Tell me why I like Mondays! Encouraged after my phone call with Taoiseach @campaignforleo on progress on #Brexit issue of Ireland. Getting closer to sufficient progress at December #EUCO.
But what exactly was the deal? Here’s Robert Rea to explain:
Fine. But the DUP, whse support Theresa May's government depends upon, are insistent that N Ireland remains an integral part of the UK, with no "special" status and no "Irish Sea" customs border between it and the rest of the UK
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?
In other words, in order to reach a border deal, and ensure the DUP are kept on board, the UK may end up with a status which is for all practical purposes pretty much equivalent to being in the customs union, and close to being in the single market
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.”
We will not accept any form of regulatory divergence which separates Northern Ireland economically or politically from the rest of the United Kingdom. pic.twitter.com/uCBVdfVQTJ
The Guardiantells 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.”
Hearing it was the DUP call that sunk today's chances of a deal – Foster held her press conf, 20 mins later May leaves talks with Juncker to call her, goes back into the room and the deal is off
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:
Things have become a lot clearer:
In her infinite wisdom, Theresa May and her Brexit negotiators didn't think it was necessary to keep the DUP in the loop on details of Irish border agreement
This is why DUP issued emergency statement which destroyed EU deal.
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:
The reason for today’s failure in the Brexit talks is the grubby deal the Tories did with the DUP after the election. Each passing day provides further evidence that @Theresa_May’s Government is completely ill-equipped to negotiate a successful deal for our country.
So the £1bn deal with the DUP didn't include supporting a carefully crafted fudge over NI to allow PM to do her Brexit deal by the deadline https://t.co/WBNEYvaakT the phrase 'no surrender' comes to mind!
Has any UK Prime Minister ever been so humiliated in international negotiations as May was this afternoon? A complex done deal between EU and UK scuppered by a phone call to the leader of a tiny party in Northern Ireland.
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:
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