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DUP must take responsibility for its role in Brexit debacle

While Boris Johnson was in jubilant mood yesterday after defying the odds and securing a deal with the EU, the mood in Northern Ireland was rather more cautious while the full implications are weighed and assessed.

The fact that some form of agreement has been reached hopefully means the catastrophe of a no-deal will be avoided.

But it must also be acknowledged that what we are giving up in terms of EU membership is nothing to be celebrated.

Clearly, from the point of view of the decisive vote in Northern Ireland in favour of Remain, it would have been better that Brexit was not happening at all.

Theresa May's Withdrawal Agreement, while not great, at least contained a backstop that provided important protections for the north and was generally supported by the business community.

Crucially, it was stymied by the DUP, which found itself in a pivotal role at Westminster, propping up the May government.

Following her resignation, the party enjoyed the attentions of Boris Johnson, perhaps feeling he was someone more in tune with their thinking.

However, with the Brexit deadline approaching and with the DUP unable to support the proposals being hammered out in Brussels, the prime minister has effectively jettisoned the unionists and decided to gamble on getting his deal through the House of Commons tomorrow.

It is a risky strategy and there is no guarantee he will have the numbers.

But presumably he is calculating that if he goes into an election having done what no one expected him to do on the backstop, then he will be in a strong position.

As for the DUP, they are plainly unhappy with the deal, claiming it will damage Northern Ireland's economy and undermine the Union.

This is all a bit late from the party that was vociferous in its support for Brexit despite warnings that leaving the EU would be detrimental to both the economy and the Union.

Their protests over the integrity of the Good Friday Agreement also ring rather hollow given the party's longstanding opposition to the deal.

While there is relief in Brussels at the agreement yesterday, attention will now switch to Westminster on Saturday when the next stage in this drama will play out.

Whatever happens, the DUP cannot sidestep its responsibility for championing Brexit with all the consequences that it will bring.

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