The latest Tory / DUP Brexit proposal doesn’t make sense to anybody

EU flag and Union flag with a split between them
Peadar O'Cearnaigh

On 29 September on BBC 5 LiveStephen Nolan interviewed Andrew Bowie, a vice chair of the Conservative Party. They discussed the latest Tory and DUP proposal for the Brexit crisis.

When Nolan asked him if the British government would consider a time-limited backstop as a solution to the Brexit crisis, Bowie said:

that’s certainly something that we will be looking at along with many other proposals

DUP leader Arlene Foster had already said, at a fringe event at the Conservative Party conference, that her party would “look at” such an option.

Confused?

Understandably, lots of people were confused by this. Because not only has a time-limited backstop been rejected by the Irish Government, but the DUP believes the backstop is both “undemocratic and unconstitutional”.

So reaction online was equally confused. Firstly, hard-line loyalists who are “staunchly pro-Brexit” warned against the DUP betraying them. And reaction also came from those who know this idea has been rejected. This highlighted how confusing the Tory / DUP position was. So it wasn’t clear exactly why both parties were talking about it again.

Reaction to Arlene Foster

Jim Allister, leader of the hard-line unionist party Traditional Unionist Voice (TUV), responded to Arlene Foster:

Others from the loyalist fringe saw it as a betrayal:

But one political commentator saw it as a strategic move by the DUP to avoid losing seats at the next election:

We’ve been here before!

Tánaiste (Irish deputy prime minister) Simon Coveney rejected a time-limited backstop proposal in October 2018. Arlene Foster even admitted that her suggestion wouldn’t be accepted by the Taoiseach (Irish prime minister) Leo Varadkar. So people took to social media to express their utter bewilderment, and to remind Foster of this:

What’s the real story?

As this proposal was already rejected by the Irish government, it’s difficult to understand whether the DUP and Tories are seeking workable solutions or just making it look like they are. Either way, this approach doesn’t breed confidence.

Of course the possibility that DUP and Tory Brexiteers have softened can’t be ruled out. But from a government that rides roughshod over democracy through proroguing parliament, and a prime minister who has bluntly rejected seeking an extension date to Brexit, it’s increasingly difficult to take them seriously at all.

Featured image via Flickr – Christoph Scholz

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