Sources in Northern Ireland have told the SKWAWKBOX that the main factor holding up a deal between the Tories and the DUP is the issue of boundary changes.
The Tories want – but may not be able – to push through boundary changes in the UK in a move that will essentially give them a boost of ten seats, with many commentators recognising this as little more than a naked attempt to gerrymander our political system in their favour.
However, the different contours of the political landscape in Northern Ireland mean that, while the DUP may agree with the Tories on issues of social conservatism, they are dead-set against the boundary changes that will cost them three seats. By contrast, Sinn Fein would favour changes that would reduce a loyalist advantage.
DUP sources have been withering about the Tories’ negotiating skills – which hardly bodes well for the Brexit deal, let alone for Northern Ireland:
Theresa May and her party are on the horns of a huge dilemma. If she refuses, she loses her deal.
But if she concedes the boundary changes, she will be throwing away the Tory ambition to rig our democracy in their favour to the fury of her hardline backbenchers and will be seen as weak by a DUP that won’t hesitate to turn the screw to its advantage now and in future.
But far worse, it will be considered by nationalists in Northern Ireland as a return to gerrymandering – a key cause of the Troubles and a possible trigger for their resumption.
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