What a difference a year makes. Last year, Boris Johnson was the darling of the Democratic Unionist Party Conference. However, this year, Party leader Arlene Foster quipped that the DUP had ‘sent him to the naughty step twice last week’.
She was, of course, referring to the pivotal role that the DUP played in voting down the timetable motion on the Withdrawal Agreement and the same on what turned out to be the ‘Not-so-super’ Saturday when Mr. Johnson lost the vote on Oliver Letwin amendment to the ‘Meaningful Vote’.
Both Foster and Nigel Dodds, the leader of the small but mathematically crucial band of DUP MP’s in Westminster, indicated that the Party is unlikely to drop its opposition to the Agreement. They also, in a sign of the continued frostiness between the two camps, continued to accuse the Prime Minister of dishonesty in the promises he made to them and of selling out the Union. DUP intransigence has been entrenched by the Government’s language, especially over customs checks which it can’t quite bring itself to fully admit will exist under this agreement.
Dodds insisted that the roadmap to a winning majority for the Government is dependent on DUP votes:
The roadmap to a majority in the House of Commons is clear.
The quest to deliver Brexit can be complete with our votes.
Together, as one United Kingdom. pic.twitter.com/UlZyTwbPcs
— Nigel Dodds (@NigelDoddsDUP) 26 October 2019
It is hard to disagree with Dodds’s analysis looking at Parliamentary mathematics. Mr. Johnson’s quandary is that to bring the DUP on-board he would have to alienate Conservative Remain rebels, all of which exposes the impossibility of the current Parliamentary impasse.
Foster echoed the same theme, unsurprisingly, and it is hard to argue with her assertion that the DUP have always been open and honest with the Government, the clue to the DUP’s priorities is in the Parties name – Democratic UNIONIST Party, in a straight-up choice they will always choose the Union. She also said that the DUP is “ready” for a General Election, implying the Party might support one in a vote in Westminster next week.
However, whether that will tilt the scales far enough in favour of the Prime Minister remains to be seen……