Leading Article: Unionist veto on future border arrangements not acceptable
It is clear from the proposals published yesterday that the British government under Boris Johnson is performing contortions to resolve a problem that the people of Northern Ireland neither sought nor endorsed in the Brexit referendum.
The north voted convincingly in favour of remaining in the European Union but that significant fact has been completely ignored by the DUP, which has aligned itself with hardline Brexiteers who have no regard for the views of people here, many of whom believe EU membership has been generally beneficial.
Now we have the turmoil of Brexit, unwanted upheaval, uncertainty over the border, worries over trade and concerns for the Good Friday Agreement and fears for our hard won peace.
Theresa May agreed a plan with the EU that was aimed at protecting the border, the backstop broadly welcomed by business and Remain parties as being the least worst option in the circumstances.
As we know, she failed to get her deal through Westminster, was forced out by Brexiteers and succeeded by Mr Johnson who vowed to tear up the backstop and leave on October 31, come what may.
His master plan, sent to Jean-Claude Juncker yesterday, is a complicated document which crosses a number of EU red lines and creates serious obstacles for Ireland, north and south.
As a number of observers have pointed out, his plan would see Northern Ireland effectively ending up with two borders.
Having dismissed suggestions earlier this week of customs clearance sites a few miles from the border, Mr Johnson is proposing a small number of physical checks 'at traders' premises or other points in the supply chain,' which sounds very similar.
Manufacturing NI has strongly criticised the onerous system of checks and documentation which would be a considerable burden on business.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was also scathing, saying Mr Johnson's plan was worse than Theresa May's Withdrawal Agreement.
A crucial aspect of this plan is the role of the Assembly and executive. Aside from the obvious difficulty that Stormont is not sitting and there's no sign of its return, there will be alarm over the proposal to give unionists a veto, which will not be acceptable to nationalists.
It was notable that Mr Johnson's letter mentions an economic boost for Northern Ireland, which may help sweeten the deal for the DUP but will not assuage wider misgivings about this plan.