Arlene sees the light

What is Arlene Foster up to? A blind-folded man on a bicycle could answer that one. She’s intent on tip-toeing backwards out of the cul-de-sac into which she and the DUP have landed themselves.  You’ll remember when Theresa May was about to make an announcement about a deal with the EU, she was summoned by the DUP, who wanted to impress on her and everyone else how they were calling the tune in the Brexit thing. They have insisted, as has Boris Johnson, that there can be no backstop  in any agreement.

Now light appears to have filtered into Arlene’s head, making it clear to her that the position she and her party have taken – no backstop and a clean break from Europe – is completely out of step with the business community and the farming community from which the DUP draws its support. An example: I was talking to an elderly farmer yesterday who told me that Brexit would cost him and farmers like him £50,000 a year. The various business organisations are hoarse shouting for the DUP to stop the madness.

My evidence for saying that a chink of light has entered the dark cavern that is Arlene’s brain?  Last night she was down in Dublin addressing the Dublin Chamber of Commerce. Even if you didn’t read a word of what she said, her presence in Dublin was the first tippy-toe reverse step of the DUP. But when you hear what she said, the message is blindingly obvious.

Arlene said that of course our NE Nest would be open to having different treatment from the rest of the UK, as long as it didn’t threaten the Precious Union.

“I think what we want to see is a recognition that we are on an island. We do recognise the unique history and geography, but we also have to recognise that we are in the United Kingdom.”

When’s the last time you heard Arlene talk about ‘us’ living on an island? Or “our unique history and geography”?  (Actually it’s not unique, Arlene. Our colonial subjugation has been similar to most other colonial subjugations. The difference is, ours has gone on longer.)

Arlene has made it clear that her party can’t wait to get back into a revived Stormont. From there, the DUP and Sinn Féin could together agree to an alternative to the backstop (actually the same backstop but wearing lipstick) and we’d all be saved from a no-deal Doomsday.

And so, Arlene figures, she’ll be able to get out of the blind alley she’s marched up and will be able to blame Sinn Féin if they refuse to go back into government with her party.

Boiled down, Arlene’s message is “Of course we’ll accept the terms of an agreement that makes NI different. We’ve always said that. (Somebody, peel Virginia off the ceiling) If despite all our efforts it ends up with no deal then obviously it’ll be Sinn Féin’s fault for not joining us in Stormont.”

Or to put it more succinctly: black is white.

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