Belfast Telegraph

Suzanne Breen: Brexit deal sees Boris Johnson dump DUP in spectacular fashion after short honeymoon

Boris Johnson with Arlene Foster (Niall Carson/PA)
Boris Johnson with Arlene Foster (Niall Carson/PA)
Boris Johnson and Arlene Foster
Suzanne Breen

By Suzanne Breen

The honeymoon is well and truly over. It’s just four short months since Boris met Arlene on the balcony at Stormont, but the Prime Minister spectacularly dumped the DUP today.

No matter how the Government tries to dress it up, Arlene Foster’s party was led down the garden path on what London would agree to.

Time and time again, its MPs shot down speculation on the contents of a deal, and said the media had it wrong.

Turns out those sources were spot on, and it’s the DUP which was duped. Perfidious Albion strikes again.

The track record of Boris Johnson and Jacob Rees Mogg should never have inspired confidence. Having denounced Theresa May’s deal, they walked into the Aye lobby and voted for it in March.

When push came to shove and the pressure piled on Johnson, it was always going to end thus.

Northern Ireland is treated differently than the rest of the UK in this deal.

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There is a customs and regulatory border in the Irish Sea. Unlike the backstop in Mrs May’s deal, there is a consent mechanism, but it’s not to the DUP’s taste.

Just days ago, the party was confident parallel consent at Stormont would be included. A requirement for 40% support of unionists and 40% of nationalists in the Assembly gave it a veto.

The DUP said that if Stormont wasn’t sitting, consent would go to a grand committee of Northern Ireland MPs in the Commons, again giving it another veto.

None of this is in Boris Johnson’s deal. There are huge risks for the DUP in saying "No", but it has calculated there were far greater ones in saying "Yes".

The party believes that it couldn’t have sold this deal on the streets. Going into an election and trying to do so would cost it votes given all the pledges its made on Brexit. The UUP and TUV both strongly oppose the new agreement so the DUP has no cover.

DUP eyes are now firmly focussed on what happens on Saturday when MPs vote on the deal. Will enough Tories who lost the whip, Labour parliamentarians in Leave constituencies, and ERG members vote it through?

One thing is for certain though. As the DUP gathers for its annual conference in Belfast next weekend, Boris Johnson won’t be the star turn this year – and any Government gate-crashers will be lynched.

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