Opinion

Edwin Poots has misread Brexit from start to finish

The outspoken attacks launched by Edwin Poots on Dublin politicians and the EU in recent days have graphically illustrated how detached from reality both the new DUP leader and sections of his party have become.

Mr Poots claimed yesterday that the EU was damaging the peace process and treating Northern Ireland as a political `plaything', and also said last week that the Irish government had been attempting to starve northerners of medicines, including cancer drugs, and food.

It may be necessary to remind Mr Poots of the well-documented sequence of events which led us to the Irish Sea border.

When the then UK prime minister David Cameron foolishly tried to placate Eurosceptic Conservatives by agreeing to the 2016 EU referendum, some senior DUP members privately warned of the huge dangers ahead.

However, the party leadership resolved not only to endorse the leave side but to become actively involved in its campaign and even helped it to evade official spending limits.

The DUP accepted a bizarre £425,00 donation from an obscure pro-Brexit group enabling it to place a dubious and prominent advertisement in the London-based Metro newspaper which may well have influenced the final result in an exceptionally tight contest.

While voters in Northern Ireland opted decisively to stay in the EU, the DUP went on to press for a departure in the most aggressive terms possible.

Theresa May, after succeeding Mr Cameron, attempted to introduce the backstop approach which would have at least temporarily kept the north within the EU's Single Market, with enormous economic benefits, only for DUP MPs to effectively veto the proposal.

The DUP then inexplicably decided to place its full faith in the latest UK prime minister, Boris Johnson, during the defining round of negotiations, and found that he swiftly betrayed them by agreeing to the introduction of the final resort known as the Northern Ireland protocol.

There was a broad nationalist consensus over the obvious risks associated with any return to a hard Irish land border, but at no stage were there any hint of the blatant threats associated with the recent statements made by the Loyalist Communities Council.

Mr Poots and his colleagues completely misread all aspects of the Brexit fiasco, meaning that the final break-up of the union, due to the influence of English rather than Irish nationalists and without any input from the EU, has never been closer.

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