Election 2017: May postpones reshuffle and will ‘reflect’ on why Tories lost seats – live

9 Jun

I do think it’s a mistake to go into government with the “support of our friends” in the DUP. Even John Major avoided doing that and the reason he avoided that is the peace process is based on a balance that the British government has made it clear it is neutral in Northern Ireland, it doesn’t take sides. Once you have their support, you are no longer neutral.

It matters for two big reasons. First, we haven’t managed to get the executive back up and running in Northern Ireland because of divisions between the two sides. The British government were trying to mediate between the two sides to get an administration up and running again and of course now it can’t possibly have that role of mediating.

And secondly I think it’s a mistake because one of the big issues in the Brexit negotiations is the border between north and south. Now the DUP is a minority in its view about Brexit, it’s in favour of Brexit. This is going to be a very real problem.

Whatever you put on a piece of paper, you’re living there with a minority government. That’s dependent on the DUP. You get to a crucial issue and then they say: “Remember what we want in terms of talks in Northern Ireland,” and the government has a choice. Do they say: “We’re not giving you that. We’ll let the government collapse,” or do they just bend a little on that issue – it’s just one small issue, it doesn’t matter? But beyond that, the government can’t possibly be seen as neutral on Northern Ireland now if it puts itself at the mercy of the DUP.

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