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.
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:
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— DUP (@duponline) September 10, 2019
Its statement includes the line:
not one single Unionist MLA in the Northern Ireland Assembly supports it
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:
The proposal articulated by Jim Wells on @StephenNolan is preposterous – the DUP need to think again. The grassroots unionist community will never accept such an outrageous suggestion. We need to hear from Arlene Foster on what the DUP’s policy actually is!
— Jamie Bryson (@JamieBrysonCPNI) September 11, 2019
Jim Wells does not represent the DUP – they have even withdrawn the DUP whip from him. The Nolan Show interviews him to damage the DUP!!!
— Lord John Kilclooney (@KilclooneyJohn) September 11, 2019
But despite having the whip withdrawn, he’s still an elected MLA.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.
O the empire is crumbling 🎼😆☘️🇨🇮
— The minstrel (@minstrel67devin) September 11, 2019
It won't matter what the Dup's policy is. The UK Gov will not damage future trading with EU to keep people happy over here. Brois has already mentioned alignment in parts with the South. Its only a matter of time now its very close, backstop reworded differently coming.
— Obo (@Obo97443193) September 11, 2019
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.
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