Well – here it is – Der Tag, as the Germans term it. The Day. By the end of today, Theresa May’s (and the EU’s) withdrawal deal will either have been accepted and passed by the British House of Commons, or it’ll have blown up on the launch-pad, leaving a number of badly-injured crew-members, including Theresa May.
Hardly anybody thinks the May package will pass. In fact they’re counting how many she may lose by, and how badly she’d have to lose to be shorn of all credibility. Optimists estimate the size of her defeat could be as little as fifty or sixty. Yes indeed, Virginia – an odd notion of victory, to be defeated by only fifty or sixty MPs’ votes. But it does show us something about the DUP.
The truth is, if every member of the DUP voted for Theresa May’s package today, it’d still be defeated. Which shines the light of reality on the DUP’s boast that they hold the balance of power, and makes Nigel Dodds look like the captain of a canoe with a large hole in it. The DUP likes to tell anyone who’ll listen that they can end their confidence and supply agreement with the Tories at any point. But of course they won’t. The DUP detest the idea of a backstop; but Theresa May still has acceptance of the backstop as part of the package she brings today to the British parliament. After the dust has settled tonight, the DUP won’t tell the Tories: “OK, we warned you not to do that – confidence and supply is over.” Instead, what we will get is the DUP going back into the confidence and supply role. It’s like a dog whose abusive owner ignores its needs and gives it the occasional kick: no matter what path the Tory government takes, the DUP spring back up and support them until the next time. The DUP hold the fate of the Tory government in their hands, and at the same time the Tory government ignores the DUP’s wishes. Schrodinger’s cat existing and not existing at the same time has nothing on the DUP.
Was it Enoch Powell who said all political careers end in failure? The Tories have a record of using Irish political parties and tossing them aside when their usefulness is over. As Gerry Adams predicted, this Tory-DUP bed-sharing is going to end in tears. And soon.