DUP politician indicates massive U-turn on the ‘backstop’ agreement

Arlene Foster and a border checkpoint
Peadar O'Cearnaigh

The DUP’s Jim Wells has revealed a possible shift in his party’s position on a “Northern Ireland-only backstop” agreement. Should it become official DUP policy, Wells’s revelation would mean the DUP has effectively accepted the backstop agreement. This is something it said it would never do.

His revelation came in a pre-recording of Stephen Nolan’s Top Table that goes out on BBC1 this evening, and in response to a statement from the host that “we would be living to EU rules, Jim”.

Wells said:

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we would be aligning ourselves voluntarily with European rules, yes.


This is particularly shocking as the DUP has consistently opposed the backstop and “’special status’ for Northern Ireland” in Brexit negotiations. Yet even more shocking is that the DUP publicly and recently confirmed this opposition after meeting Boris Johnson on 10 September:

Its statement includes the line:

not one single Unionist MLA in the Northern Ireland Assembly supports it

But Jim Wells is a Unionist MLA in the Northern Ireland Assembly. And his statement is in keeping with the apparent softening of the DUP/Tory position, as reported by The Canary.

Hard-line loyalism can’t believe it

This led to reaction from hard-line loyalism. And it showed the utter shock waves Wells’s statement sent through the loyalist heartland:

But despite having the whip withdrawn, he’s still an elected MLA.

The online response

Wells did say:

that’s only being floated at the moment – that’s not hard policy

But the response online suggested that nobody was buying it. Because it really does seem like a massive DUP U-turn.

Just facing facts

While Wells might only be ‘floating’ this idea at the moment, it’s big news that a loyalist politician would do even that much. And in fact, the DUP may just be facing the reality of what it’s led itself into.

Featured image DailyMail/Screengrab & YouTube – VoxNews

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