I have a suspicious mind. Which may be the reason I think the DUP are feeling very uncomfortable about having tied themselves to the Brexiteer camp. Like all of us, the Brexiteers didn’t think they’d win, so it was like the dog chasing the bus: now it’s caught it, what does it do with it?
The DUP has always liked to see their party as the voice of the people here. In terms of Brexit, however, they discovered they were markedly out of step with a clear majority here: 56% of people in our NEN wanted to stay in the EU. The DUP’s response to this uncomfortable fact was to keep repeating that the UK as a whole voted and the UK as a whole wanted out of Europe. In other words, it may not be what we here in this North-Eastern Nest wanted, but we’re loyal UK citizens and so we go with the majority vote.
Going back at least until 1912, that has not been the traditional position of unionists here. The Ulster Covenant was all about defying the will of the British parliament and people. Now , almost exactly 100 years later, the DUP is urging everyone to accept the will of the majority in the UK. Amazing the difference 100 years can make.
And it’s getting worse. According to results of a survey reported in The Guardian today, there’s been a sharp stab of buyer’s remorse shooting through the population here. In 2016, 56% of people voted to remain in the EU ad 44% wanted to leave. Today, the Leavers has dropped from 44% to 31%. That means less than a third of the people here support the DUP Brexit stance. According to Professor Brendan O’Leary of Queen’s University, “…more people have become aware of the possible costs and inconveniences of leaving the EU, as citizens and as employees or employers.” Not sure how to say this, Arlene/Nigel, but 69% of people here see Brexit differently from you.
And there’s more. A hard border in Ireland (and a hard border between our NEN and Britain) would be met with protests which could easily descent into violence. “Protests would start peaceful and then if they don’t get anywhere they would just escalate it,” one young Catholic is reported as saying. There are even suggestions that a border between our NEN and Britain would result in protest. Among Protestants, 9% were prepared to protest up to the level of road-blocks; and, surprisingly, 13% of Catholics felt the same way. But concerns over east-west customs is considerably less marked than that north-south.
The DUP must be feeling like biting the nearest tree when they realise that, by their own hand, they have succeeded in attracting the opposition of over two-thirds of the population here. And if the June meeting between the UK and the EU doesn’t prove to be one where progress has clearly been made on the border problem, things are going to get even worse. And if it does, expect to see that 69% figure increase even further and the unhappiness of the DUP to deepen.
Here’s the link to The Guardian piece: https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/may/21/support-for-brexit-falls-sharply-in-northern-ireland?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other