Leading Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) MP Sammy Wilson has said now is the time to “exploit the cracks” appearing in the EU to win a better Brexit deal — and warned the Irish they will be tossed aside by the bloc when they can no longer be used as leverage.
The Brexit spokesman for the Ulster-based party, characterised by fierce determination to maintain Northern Ireland’s place in the British Union and his working-class Presbyterian roots, urged Theresa May to strike for a stronger deal with the EU now exit day on March 29th is closing in and a No Deal begins to look inevitable.
The DUP, which normally provides Mrs May’s minority government with its parliamentary majority, helped to send her proposed deal with the EU down to a crushing, historic defeat when it came before Parliament for approval, principally because of the so-called “Irish backstop” it provided for — which would have allowed the EU to effectively annex Northern Ireland economically, in order to keep the border with the Irish Republic open.
📄STATEMENT: It’s time to exploit 🇺 chaos and press for a better deal. pic.twitter.com/YliHnILVqg
— Sammy Wilson MP (@eastantrimmp) January 28, 2019
The EU has long maintained that something like the backstop is the only way to prevent a so-called “hard border” between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland after Brexit, unless the United Kingdom — or Northern Ireland alone — are kept inside its Customs Union. This is despite the fact that a “hard” currency border, excise border, and VAT border are already maintained without concrete walls and armed watchtowers.
As the reality of a No Deal Brexit begins to set in, however, the rhetoric is beginning to change, with Irish Taoiseach (prime minister) Leo Varadkar reportedly briefing Irish MPs that they are considering checks in Calais, and EU lead negotiator Michel Barnier also alluding to “find[ing] an operational way of carrying out checks and controls without putting back in place a border”.
'Disgusting' – Anti-Brexiteers Put Berlin-style Wall Manned by Armed 'Soldiers' on Irish Border https://t.co/HxeTj6cn0P
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) January 28, 2019
“We always knew it would come to this when Brussels was faced with a situation [created by] its own intransigence,” commented Wilson. “Now is the time for the Government to be tough and to face down the stubbornness of Dublin and Brussels.”
“Leo Varadkar may have thought in his naivety that it was wise to suck up to the EU,” he added in a note of mingled warning and advice.
“Maybe he even hopes to get a post in Europe in the future, but in reality he should be cautious. The EU view the [Republic of Ireland] as a small country which the designers of the European project will toss aside, damage, abandon once they have been used.”
Ireland is massively dependent on the United Kingdom for trade, both as a market in itself and as a conduit for much of its commerce with the wider world.
Leo Varadkar implying Britain won't be able to fly over Irish airspace after Brexit is probably the dumbest comment made this year. Take a look at just how many flight paths from Dublin cross over the UK! ⬇️♂️
— Leave.EU (@LeaveEUOfficial) July 20, 2018