Brexit: Will Northern Ireland be May's downfall?

UK Prime Minister Theresa May travelled to Brussels with a proposed compromise for breaking the deadlock in the Brexit talks on Monday: Northern Ireland would receive a special status in order to prevent a hard border on the island. But under pressure from Northern Ireland's DUP Unionist party she was forced to withdraw the offer. Commentators see the prime minister in real trouble now.

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Financial Times (GB) /

United Kingdom's unity at stake

The demands of Scotland, Wales and London for the same special status as that envisaged for Northern Ireland pose a major threat to the UK's unity, warns the Financial Times:

“Mrs May must carry the whole country with her as the Brexit negotiations shuffle forward. Fudging the Irish border is the best (and only) solution right now but the conundrum will have to be resolved at some point. More difficult decisions lie ahead. If Mrs May wants to avoid the nasty rise of nationalism in these nations, the UK should jump out of the EU as one, or not at all.”

Upsala Nya Tidning (SE) /

Boris Johnson already in the starting blocks

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson is waiting to step in should Theresa May prove unable to find a solution to the Brexit dilemma at home, Upsala Nya Tidning fears:

“The figurehead of the Brexiteers has been waiting in the wings the whole time. In fact he's never been an all-out supporter of Britain's leaving the EU, and only championed the Brexit for populist reasons to do with shaking up the establishment and furthering his career. ... Even if we've already got enough worries on our plate, we'll have to live with that. Theresa May and Jean-Claude Juncker will make another attempt on the weekend. But the real problem isn't in Brussels.”

La Repubblica (IT) /

Theresa May's dilemma

The Irish question will be Theresa May's downfall, La Repubblica predicts:

“May is between a rock and a hard place: if she satisfies the EU and gives Northern Ireland a special status, she'll incur the wrath of the Unionists of the DUP who are vehemently opposed to any differentiation between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK. ... And because the DUP guarantees the British prime minister's majority in parliament with its handful of MPs, May would lose her post. ... On the other hand, if the Tory leader tries to keep the DUP happy there'll be no agreement with the EU and she'll have to take the blame for leading Britain into an economic and legal disaster. And amidst all the chaos Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn could end up in 10 Downing Street.”

The Guardian (GB) /

Pact with Unionists taking its toll

Theresa May must not allow Northern Ireland's DUP to hold her hostage in the Brexit negotiations, the Guardian stresses:

“Monday may have been the moment when Mrs May's Brexit strategy came off the rails. ... But if Mrs May had been more flexible about Brexit and had not made her abject pact with the DUP after the general election, she would have got a deal on Monday. That is what most people in these islands want. It is profoundly in both national interests that there is no hard border in Ireland. But it is equally important that Britain stays in the customs union. The DUP must not be allowed to veto either issue.”

RTE News (IE) /

Compromise would have benefited London

The DUP's rejection of the compromise solution for the Irish border is incomprehensible, RTE News writes:

“The wording regarding the need for a sustained 'regulatory alignment' between Northern Ireland and the EU leaves a lot of room for ambiguity, cheating, and creative interpretation. It made an agreement considerably more attractive for the British side because it implied that the British parliament wouldn't have to copy all the EU regulations drawn up in Brussels but can make its own laws - as long as they basically boil down to the same as the corresponding EU regulations.”