Northern Ireland continues to expose the contradictions at the heart of Brexitby Sarah Creighton / January 16, 2019 / Leave a comment
The Teller’s voice was clear and loud. “Ayes to the right,
202; the Nos to the left, 432.” After two years of negotiations, debate and
drama, the House of Commons voted against Theresa May’s Withdrawal Agreement. It
was over in a matter of seconds. The government lost by 230 votes, the biggest
Commons defeat since 1924.
Among the MPs cheering yesterday were the DUP. As Theresa
May stared stony faced across the Commons Chamber, I wonder if she was thinking
back to that sunny day in June 2017 when she signed the Confidence and Supply
Agreement. Maybe she looked back further to June 2016 when, as Home Secretary,
she paid a visit to Northern Ireland before the referendum. During that visit
she said that there would be border controls if the UK pulled out of the
European Union. The visit passed without much fanfare in the press. Nobody in
Britain batted an eyelid.
This week, every single DUP MP voted against the Withdrawal
Agreement. Nobody should be surprised by this. The party has been consistent in
its opposition to the Agreement and its contents for a long time.
The DUP, along with the majority of unionist parties in
Northern Ireland, opposes the contentious “backstop.” The backstop was first
agreed in the Joint Report in December 2017, and it was the DUP who raised hell
when the Report was leaked before publication. Theresa May was humiliated on
the international stage and forced into an embarrassing climbdown after telling
the EU that the Report w…