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Irony in call to trust Boris

Stephen Oreilly

THE IRONY of Jacob Rees-Mogg calling on Brexiteers to trust Boris Johnson will not go unnoticed. It would indicate a sorry state of affairs in the camp of those wanting to leave the European Union that they have to be appealed to for their backing.

Even more remarkable, in Mr Rees-Moggs's contribution to a Sunday morning news programme was his admission that he could be made to eat his own words, those words being the description of the agreement Theresa May attempted to get through the British parliament as "completely cretinous".

In the same programme the leader of the commons refused to confirm or deny that the direction of Johnson's ongoing discussions could end at a conclusion similar to that reached by the former British prime minister.

DUP opposition to the May deal centred on the fact that Northern Ireland would be treated differently than the rest of the United Kingdom so as not to jeopardise the Good Friday Agreement. Coincidentally that deal would have seen Northern Ireland not just treated differently but would have seen it with, according to many experts, a business advantage.

But at the time the DUP saw 'being treated like the rest of the UK' as much more important than any other consideration. Given all of the utterances of the past few days it is not surprising that the DUP has thought it necessary to restate its position. Nigel Dodds said the speculated deal "cannot work because Northern Ireland has to remain fully part of the UK customs union".

But even his party has indicated a change in its stance in recent weeks. Another recent proposal was that Northern Ireland would remain part of the single market and have its position reviewed every four years. Previously the DUP had refused to countenance staying in the single market because it would have treated the north differently. That position changed with the fig leaf of the assembly being used as the mechanism for that four-yearly review.

So it seems the DUP is prepared to be treated differently sometimes. However, in the middle of the ongoing discussions it is important to remember that nothing has yet been decided and one of the few things both sides have agreed on it that there is a lot of hard work ahead.

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