By Henry Hill
Jones criticises Varadkar for ‘unhelpful’ approach to Brexit
David Jones, the former Welsh Secretary and Brexit minister, has criticised the attitude of the new Irish Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, towards Britain’s departure from the EU.
According to The Journal, he described the Fine Gael leader’s comments as “not terribly helpful” and contrasted his attitude with that of his predecessor, Enda Kenny. In particular, Jones claimed that Kenny had been well-disposed towards finding a ‘technological solution’.
By contrast Varadkar and Simon Coveney, his foreign minister, have struck a much more stridently nationalist tone which has drawn criticism both from the DUP and commentators in the Republic.
Meanwhile Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, a senior Democratic Unionist MP, has dismissed the Irish Government’s preparation for Brexit as a ‘pipe dream’ for being based on the assumption that momentum was building towards Irish unification, the News Letter reports.
Online divisions undermining the Scottish independence movement
Over the weekend Ross Greer, a Member of the Scottish Parliament for the Greens, took to the pages of the pro-independence Sunday Herald to hit out at Scottish nationalism’s ‘lunatic fringe’.
After a torrid period for the ‘Yes movement’, in which Nicola Sturgeon’s over-hasty dash for a second referendum has exposed the lack of any shift in public opinion, he claimed that hard-line and aggressive elements of the separatist community were undermining the broader cause.
Divisions are certainly starting to show. Writing in The Herald, David Torrance sets out how UK-level developments such as Brexit and the rise of Jeremy Corbyn are peeling away parts of the SNP’s ’45 per cent’ coalition. This is leading true believers to turn on those members of the movement whose support for independence is more conditional – particularly left-wingers.
Criticism of the so-called ‘cybernats’ is nothing new, of course, but it is an unusual and welcome development for such criticism to come from somebody who supports independence.
Under the leadership of Patrick Harvie the Greens have shifted from being split on the constitutional question (their former leader, Robin Harper, is a unionist) to operating in many ways as a de facto annex of the SNP. But at least as a separate party Greer and his comrades haven’t had to sign the Nationalists’ pledge never to criticise the Party.
Cracks appear in the DUP’s opposition to gay marriage
When Theresa May struck her bargain with the Democratic Unionists after the general election, one of the things which attracted most criticism was that party’s stance on gay marriage.
As a socially conservative party from a very religious part of the country, the DUP have used devolution to hold out against introducing it to Northern Ireland. But now that may be changing. The Irish News reports that whilst Arlene Foster’s party may not be about to enthusiastically embrace gay marriage, they may allow it to pass with “muted opposition”.
This may simply be a concession to reality: if the Northern Ireland Assembly reforms without another election, the DUP’s disastrous showing in March means they have insufficient legislators to mount a ‘petition of concern’ and veto legislation.
But it may also be recognition that as the DUP has won voters and members from its unionist rivals, some of its positions no longer reflect its base and activists as clearly as they once did. The Belfast Telegraph reported this week of that the party’s ‘cracks’ on this issue were spilling into the open.
Elsewhere, evangelicals have urged the party to use its influence on the Government to change UK-wide gambling law.
Welsh Nationalist AM censured
Neil McEvoy, a Plaid Cymru member of the Welsh Assembly, should face censure for breaching its Code of Conduct, according to a cross-party committee.
Wales Online reports that the Standards Commissioner has concluded he used Assembly resources for party-political campaigning in his role as a Cardiff councillor.
The offence was apparently committed in March, whilst McEvoy was suspended from the council’s Plaid group after a tribunal found that he had bullied a council officer.
Northern Irish Labour officers quit over infiltration attempt
Six leading members of the Labour Party in Northern Ireland, including the chair and vice-chair, have walked away from their positions over attempts by the hard left to infiltrate the party, according to The i.
The group, which has more than 2,000 members, has been campaigning vigorously against Labour’s refusal to contest elections in the province. The wipe-out of the SDLP, Labour’s sister party, at the general election ought to have put the wind in their sails.
But it appears that many members are concerned that supporters and members of far-left groups such as the Socialist Party, Socialist Workers Party, and People Before Profit, have been signing up to Labour.
All six resignees have stressed that this is a small portion of the movement and that they will remain active members. And you never know, the idea that the Northern Irish branch is riddled with ‘real socialists’ may lead Jeremy Corbyn to take a more favourable view of them.