Nigel Dodd’s of Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party is skeptical of Theresa May’s ability to deliver Brexit. May’s latest proposals will be published this Friday, i.e. May 24, but he believes that even the latest proposal overlooked the major flaws of the previous bills.
Theresa May’s proposal for the Irish backstop
Theresa May expressed her wish to put in place technological solutions to avoid physical checks on Northern Ireland’s border. Conservative MP Graham Brady argues that technological solutions do not exist yet and Brussels will only dismiss the backstop once the technological solutions are well defined. May further proposed temporary measures to avoid a hard-Irish border which comes at the cost of aligning with the European Union’s custom union-the reason why Tory Brexiters and the Democratic Unionist Party’s 10 Ministers of Parliament have voted against Theresa May’s proposals three times.
May went so far as to propose putting into law paragraph 50 of the joint declaration with the European Union in which the backstop was first proposed. Paragraph 50 states all the provisions under which the withdrawal of the country from the European Union begins. After notification of implementation of Paragraph 50 to the European Union, the United Kingdom and the other constituent states of the European Union are given a two-year window. In these two years, both the parties must formulate a new, formal relationship. One of the amendments two Paragraph 50 that had been proposed granted permission to EU nationals that had been living in the United Kingdom, to continue living there. This amendment could not become a part of the paragraph. Exit of Britain from the European Union through the implementation of Paragraph 50 will be first of its kind.
This is something that Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party has been asking for a long time. The DUP has been complaining that the paragraph is being ignored, but Theresa May has promised that it will be implemented.
In the case of a backstop
In her latest proposal presented on 21 May Theresa May tried to woo Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party by offering a backup plan in case the backstop ever comes into force. She proposed that Britain would stay aligned with Northern Ireland’s European Union regulations to avoid setting up a new border in the Irish sea. This proposal by May was aimed at Conservative Brexiters and DUP, to whom it may be underwhelming. The Northern Ireland assembly will have to give its consent to all the new regulations that will be proposed during the backstop, but this is unimpressive to the Democratic Unionist Party, and hence it is giving Theresa May the cold shoulder.
What could happen
This is the best offer Northern Ireland can get. If the Democratic Unionist party rejects it, a border poll will inevitably follow. If the bill fails at Westminster, the DUP might think it to be useless to support May as the failure of the latest proposal will lead to her stepping down.