Jingoism can’t disguise DUP’s reckless Brexit agenda

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By Sinn Fein deputy leader Michelle O’Neill

There are many great ironies of the DUP’s current position on the Brexit debacle.

Arlene Foster’s party claims they cannot resile from their ‘blood red’ lines of no extra checks on goods coming from Britain to these shores because that would apparently undermine the constitutional integrity of the union they cherish.

It’s a far cry from the days when, at the height of the BSE crisis, Ian Paisley pragmatically declared that our cows are Irish.

But it also ignores the fact that the DUP’s view of the world, particularly on social, moral and religious issues, simply would not be tolerated elsewhere in that union.

Marriage equality, women’s healthcare rights, language rights and inquest rights are all taken for granted everywhere else on these islands.

Not so here in the north of Ireland where the DUP is still not prepared to countenance 21st century rights for 21st century citizens.

Clearly, there is very little unity in the DUP’s union.

Despite this, the DUP leadership has made it clear that our economic future is a secondary concern in comparison.

Arlene Foster is preparing to have a train crash Brexit in pursuit of a narrow agenda with no regard for the majority who voted to remain or for any of the people of the north.

The disunited union must be protected at all costs and to hell with the economic consequences for the north and for future generations.

It is a gross act of political and economic vandalism, the price of which will have to be paid by the ordinary people who live here.

They are refusing to accept the warnings of business leaders, experts and the majority of citizens that the north cannot withstand exclusion from the European Single Market and Customs Union.

They thumb their nose at the flexibility of the EU negotiators who have offered a backstop solution that effectively provides the north with the best of both worlds - unfettered access to both the European and British markets.

Instead, they take their lead from hard Brexiteers like Boris Johnson and Jacob Rees-Mogg who pine for the days of empire when the natives would take what they were given and be grateful for it.

They regurgitate the myth that the rest of the world will be queuing up to sign trade deals with post-Brexit Britain.

This ignores the cold hard economic reality that no nation is going to give a better trade deal to a country of 70 million as opposed to an economic bloc of 420 million.

But try as they might, the DUP can’t wish away economies of scale, demand and supply or basic economics.

And no amount of flag-waving jingoism can disguise the reckless agenda they are pursuing.

This disastrous approach will continue to play out like a slow-motion train crash over the coming days and weeks as the Brexit negotiations reach a critical point.

Time will tell if the DUP will pull back from the brink.

However, the fear is that, 21 months after the collapse of Stormont, this is a party that has lost the run of itself. Intoxicated by arrogance and the feteing by the right-wing of Tory Party, the DUP may no longer even be capable of political pragmatism in the interests of the people it claims to represent.

Thankfully for us all, they do not speak for the majority on Brexit.

And they do not have a veto on either the Irish Government or the EU27.

So whatever plays out in the coming days and weeks in the Tory civil war, Dublin and Brussels must ensure the people of this island do not become collateral damage in either.

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