Tag Archives: Unionist

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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Bang goes the Good Friday Agreement as paramilitary groups accuse Johnson of betraying peace

Northern Ireland: it seems Boris Johnson’s stupidity may end not only his post-Brexit free trade deal with the EU but also terminate 23 years of peace.

Paramilitary groups in Northern Ireland have withdrawn support for the Good Friday Agreement due to Brexit – and they aren’t nationalists but unionists.

The Loyalist Communities Council, a group representing the views of the UVF, UDA and Red Hand Commando, are protesting at Boris Johnson’s Irish Sea trade border between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.

The group has written to Johnson and Ireland’s taoiseach, Micheál Martin, warning of “permanent destruction” of the 1998 peace agreement without changes to post-Brexit arrangements for Northern Ireland.

The letter said unionist opposition to the Northern Ireland protocol – the part of the Brexit deal that keeps Northern Ireland a part of the EU’s single market for goods – should remain “peaceful and democratic”.

But this is a decision to withdraw support for a peace deal that underpins power-sharing in Northern Ireland. If a solution is not found quickly, peace in the province could be lost – again.

And it would be Boris Johnson’s fault.

In fact, the Brexit deal seems to be unravelling fast for Johnson. The European Union has refused to ratify it for a second time after Brussels accused the UK of violating it.

The decision came after Johnson’s ministers said they would unilaterally change parts of the agreement to give businesses in Northern Ireland time to adapt to new trade rules.

Johnson is unsafe wherever he goes now.

If he decides to change the Brexit deal again, to preserve the Good Friday Agreement, his dream of free trade with the EU (which turned out to be a nightmare in any case) will be over forever.

But if he doesn’t, he risks re-igniting the Troubles – as violence by nationalists and unionists in Northern Ireland between 1969 and 1998 was known.

Loyalist paramilitary groups endorsed the Good Friday agreement and say they have no desire to reignite the Troubles.

But the LCC said the Northern Ireland protocol had breached safeguards in the Good Friday agreement to protect the status of the province and the rest of the UK.

So Johnson has put himself in the worst of all possible worlds. And he only has himself to blame.

Source: Brexit: loyalist paramilitary groups renounce Good Friday agreement | Northern Ireland | The Guardian

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Companies House finally removes Esther McVey’s name from political campaign group’s details

It turns out Esther McVey wasn’t involved with political campaigning organisation Loyal Scots Company after all.

Companies House has removed her name from that organisation’s listing, so we now have no reason to believe that she has been its secretary, as had been previously stated (by the Companies House listing).

I had reported on the matter here

And here.

Now Evolve Politics, which broke the story after it was uncovered by Alex Tiffin, has reported:

As Vox Political reported this too, it is also necessary for me to report the change.

But I still want to know why Ms McVey tried to attack Mr Tiffin before straightening this out.

And, come to think of it, why she stopped police from investigating the apparent fraud.

I see no information about either of these elements. Do you?

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DUP-licity? Northern Irish party flip-flops back to supporting Theresa May. So what?

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.

Then, suddenly, the DUP’s leaders seem to have changed their minds. It seems they have flip-flopped back into supporting Mrs May:

Why?

Twitter has been abuzz with theories:

https://twitter.com/ToryFibs/status/1070417178242023426

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.

These are twisted times.

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Esther McVey says she has been falsely connected with a campaigning company. Why is she trying to shoot the messenger?

We always knew the Work and Pensions secretary, Esther McVey, was a bully – this proves it graphically.

Alex Tiffin is an independent journalist who runs the Universal Credit Sufferer blog.

On the morning of November 3, he tweeted an extraordinary announcement about Ms McVey, following research at Companies House.

So Ms McVey is named at Companies House as the secretary of Loyal Scots Company Ltd, a political campaign funding group worth £20 million. She has not notified the House of Commons of this financial interest. As secretary, she should be receiving correspondence to the company from HM Revenue and Customs, and may have broken the law by failing to file legally-required documents.

Note that Mr Tiffin did not write the story – it was written up by Tom D. Rogers and published on Evolve Politics rather than Universal Credit Sufferer.

Ms McVey, however, seems to have taken against him:

The problem is: Mr Tiffin very obviously did check the facts. And he didn’t write the story that caused her to complain, so she can’t use the deadline on his email against him.

While it seems she has got the message and – if the information at Companies House really is false – is taking steps to rectify the matter, why is she trying to shoot the messenger?

Mr Tiffin made many of these points in his response to Ms McVey:

He added, later:

The question about the correspondence sent to Tatton Conservative Club is pertinent. It is inconceivable that an organisation like the Conservative Party would not forward mail to one of its MPs, so one questions what happened to it.

What happened next is deeply sinister.

It seems social media users who support Ms McVey dogpiled Mr Tiffin – verbally responded to his tweets on this subject with abuse in an attempt to intimidate him:

Why would they do that? If he really has uncovered a case of identity theft, then he has done her a favour by exposing it.

If there was nothing in it, then Ms McVey’s behaviour is unaccountable. She is behaving like a woman with something to hide. Why else would anybody attack a person who has revealed the fraudulent use of their name?

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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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Irish border: Could Tories and DUP be heading for a clash?

Typical Tories.

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”.

Source: Brexit plan drawn up for border checks between NI and rest of UK | UK news | The Guardian


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Tory government faces legal action over £1 billion DUP bung

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.”

Source: British government warned of legal action over DUP deal by campaigners


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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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As we head into conference season, here are the main stories of the new Parliament – so far


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