Blog: The DUP overplayed its hand and is paying a hard price for believing Boris Johnson on Brexit – iNews

Just a few short years ago, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) were the kingmakers of Westminster politics as Theresa May relied on them to keep her Conservative minority government in power.

But in a dramatic fall they now risk Sinn Fein, whose ultimate goal is a united Ireland, being elected the largest party in Northern Ireland and taking the seat of first minister.

While the republican party has struck a chord with voters in the province by promising measures to tackle the cost of living crisis, there is no doubt that the DUP’s handling of Brexit has cost it support and left it facing a nightmare result in the Stormont elections.

Like many factions in the Brexit wars, the DUP overplayed its hand when it was at its most powerful.

The party refused to support Mrs May’s Brexit deal, which included a version of the Northern Ireland Protocol that prioritised maintaining the status quo on the island of Ireland, which propped up the delicate powersharing arrangement in Stormont, as much as possible.

She made the decision to square the impossible circle that was Northern Ireland and Brexit by sacrificing the UK’s ability to strike free trade deals around the world in order to maintain largely invisible borders on the island of Ireland and in the Irish Sea.

It cost her the support of Tory Brexit rebels, and it wasn’t enough for the DUP, and Mrs May and her deal were toppled.

Boris Johnson took over and made the impossible promise – that he would ensure trade freedom for the whole of the UK, an invisible Irish border, and that there would only be an Irish Sea border “over my dead body”.

The DUP made the mistake of believing him, only for the Prime Minister to sell them out by agreeing a Protocol with then-Irish PM Leo Varadkar which would introduce onerous checks on trade in the Irish Sea between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.

Despite Mr Johnson’s repeated claims that there would be “no checks”, it was clear what was in the deal.

The DUP withdrew support, but Mr Johnson’s Tories won an 80-seat majority in the Brexit election of 2019 and blew their parliamentary role into insignificance.

The party is now feeling the consequences of failing to make its power count for unionists in Northern Ireland.

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