A lot has happened in the past week regarding Brexit and the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), specifically regarding the borders between the U.K. and the rest of the EU, and Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. And, I know I’m not the only one who’s a bit confused. So, I’ve done the reading so you don’t have to, and I’m going to translate it into actual English rather than political jargon (you’re welcome).
The DUP, for those that don’t know, is a political party popular in Northern Ireland who have some rather extremely far-right views. When the Tories were almost elected earlier this year, the Tories scrambled to get the votes for a coalition, meaning they had to request (see: bribe) a party into a coalition. Thusly, the Tories gave the DUP £1,000,000,000 off of that magic money tree that Theresa May says doesn’t exist. After that little dodgy bit of shady gambling, everyone was like, “what the hell? Who even are the DUP?!”, but now, the DUP are saying, “hey! We want free movement!“, and the Tories (and everyone else on the right) are all like, “boo! We don’t want immigrants here! We want to turn the U.K. into a tax haven!” but the Tories can’t say no to the DUP because they’d withdraw their coalition with the Tories. So, thanks…? I guess? Considering the fact that only a few months ago, we were all terrified of the DUP because they believe women shouldn’t have access to abortions, and that gay people shouldn’t be allowed to get married. They’ve actually done something pretty good; they’re forcing May’s hand into not completely shutting off the borders.
Before all this, though, May came up with the term ‘regulatory alignment‘, and what that’s meant to mean is that existing customs rules will stay roughly the same after leaving the EU; there’d be no added border checks, custom controls, or loads of extra paperwork. The problem is, is that ‘regulatory alignment’ means different things to different borders. To Northern Ireland, the border between the North and the Republic would pretty much be erased. It means there’ll be hived off from the rest of the U.K., whereas the U.K. would stay the same, as mentioned above. This is bad for the DUP, as Arlene Foster said that it would be “making a red line down the Irish sea“.
So the Tories asked the DUP for help after the election, and now they’re throwing Northern Ireland under the bus. Is anyone surprised considering the Tories’ track record of promising one thing then doing another? Like when they said they were going to give money to the victims of the Grenfell tower tragedy, to then give a feeble, half-assed attempt at providing any kind of support? Like when Boris Johnson, the foreign secretary, promised £350 million to the NHS to then instead cut funding and sell parts of it off to Richard Branson? And now the DUP are being difficult, though, in all fairness, they do appear to be just protecting their trade; 72% of their exports land in Great Britain, so it’d be a rookie move to let the Tories put up a border between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
So that’s a brief summary of what’s happened with Brexit over the past week. At least I think that’s what’s happening, anyway. Who knows? Definitely not Boris Johnson.