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The DUPes are allowed to make a lot of noise, but how much of their support is solid?

Their support is solid enough amongst their core fundamentalist protestant base, but that only amounts to 20-30% of the electorate. Most of them actually quite dislike and distrust the English, but know that their diminishing hegemony is based on the "English Backstop" made up of guarantees of being part of the UK and in receipt of £10 Billion p.a. in subsidies. They know the Republic of Ireland couldn't afford such largesse, and, in any case, would have different priorities in spending what subsidies it could afford.

But the elephant in the room is the long term decline and systematic underdevelopment of the N. Ireland economy which has made those subsidies necessary in the first place. From having a GDP/Capita of about twice that of the Republic on independence in 1922, that ratio has now been reversed to being half that of the Republic. If re-unified now, Northern Ireland would be a proportionately larger drag on the all Ireland economy than the former GDR is on Germany.

In principle, however, absent civil unrest, there is no reason why N. Ireland should be any less productive than the Republic if run on similar lines within the EU. The problem is this could take 30+ years to achieve - see continuing underperformance and de-population of the former East Germany within Germany - and there is no way the Republic could afford that under-performance in the meantime, especially with changes in global corporate taxation rules in the offing.

So the DUP support base is stuck in something of a time warp, economically, politically, and socially, with no one really wanting them or being able to afford them, and with their traditional strategy of just saying no to everyone losing its efficacy. The EU/Ireland has steadfastly ignored their objections to the backstop and I suspect Boris Johnson will probably end up doing so too. They will then become a very nasty minority to have to deal with in N. Ireland, Ireland, the UK and, by association, in the EU.

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by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Jun 16th, 2019 at 10:51:44 AM EST
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