The DUP’s refusal to back Johnson’s deal is straight out of the Tory ‘party before country’ playbook

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Thursday 17 October 2019 19:28
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Arlene Foster warns Boris Johnson over Brexit concessions

The EU, the single market and the Good Friday Agreement gave the DUP everything it now says it wants from a deal: such as peace, no border between Northern Ireland and the Republic and a guarantee to remain in the UK. The vast majority of voters in Northern Ireland were aware of this and voted Remain. So why did the DUP support Leave knowing it was putting all of this at risk along with a possible increase in tension between communities?

The DUP was founded in 1971 by firebrand preacher Ian Paisley, whose actions in the lead up to and throughout The Troubles are well documented; his style, to say the least, was confrontational and under his leadership the DUP pushed other older parties aside to become the largest unionist party.

A few years back it returned to this successful confrontational stance on questions like abortion, same sex marriage, the Irish language and the scandal of Arlene Foster’s discredited “Cash for Ash” scheme, which cost taxpayers more than £500m and caused the collapse of the Northern Ireland executive.

In a nutshell, the DUP is putting party before country, a concept well known to Conservatives, particularly Boris Johnson. Johnson and Foster deserve each other but what about the rest of us; how do we get beyond these self-serving politicians?

As I write, the DUP is still saying no and Iain Duncan Smith is voicing reservations, so regardless of whether or not a deal is acceptable to parliament, the country must learn from the fiasco of the last three years brought about by David Cameron’s need to defeat Ukip, and its allies on the further right of the Conservative Party, for the benefit of his party regardless of the cost to the nation.

Raw emotion, rather than considered argument, got us to where we now find ourselves. To avoid this in the future we must demand politicians deal in detailed facts. I have yet to hear Johnson explain in detail how we will reach the sun-drenched uplands, or Foster justifying, in detail, her fear of a weakening union with the rest of Britain.

John Simpson
Ross-on-Wye ​

The latest Brexit deal agreed between the UK government and the European Commission flies totally in the face of the Good Friday agreement.

This requires that any arrangements must have the consent of both unionist and nationalist communities. However, the continuation of EU customs arrangements under the new deal will require a simple majority in the assembly.

The DUP is correct to raise these concerns, the irony in all this being that while it is playing up the professed sanctity of the Good Friday agreement, it voted against it at the time.

Alex Orr
Edinburgh

Pure vanity

The other week, we were entertained by the sight of Vladimir Putin going all sports-casual for his 67th birthday. Now we have the delights of Kim Jong-un riding a white stallion across a North Korean snowy idyll.

I ask myself: what are we to be subjected to next: Boris Johnson in camouflage gear atop a tank in view of the white cliffs of Dover?!

Do not bet against it.

Robert Boston
Kingshill​

Haringey won’t close markets

Haringey has 270,000 residents and 174,000 electors. It is our role to work in the best interests of them all. That often means balancing the agendas of stakeholders, and people.

In our manifesto last year we said: “The biggest challenge we face is delivering the new, decent, genuinely affordable housing that local people desperately need.” Sixteen months into my administration, this remains our greatest test.

I have always believed social housing has to be a priority for local authorities. In Haringey, we are working to deliver 1,000 additional new council homes at council rents by 2022. I am proud of the steps we are taking. Since my administration took over, we have increased our aspiration to deliver 50 per cent affordable homes and will be progressing this change through the Local Plan Review.

The housing crisis blights the lives of families in Haringey and in London every day. Doing nothing is not an option. We have to offer genuinely affordable housing and facilitate more market rent housing and homes for local people to buy.

This is the case for regeneration too. Far from the notion that regeneration forces people out, in Haringey, we believe change must be carried out with our communities, not “done to” them.

It is not just about shiny new buildings. There must always be social and economic benefits for our residents and communities.

At the Welbourne site in Tottenham, we insisted on a new deal. We secured more than 130 new council homes, which will go to families who truly need them. The Red House site – another site we’re delivering with partners – creates 46 council homes and we are building our own council homes on our land, starting on the Templeton site in Tottenham.

The Selby Urban Village Project is our gold standard – a brand new project that will see the council and local community exploring a new model of working together to deliver council homes and community provisions.

But I know there are a number of schemes that have been under way for many years that have been a focus for criticism and concern. Wards Corner in Seven Sisters, and High Road West in North Tottenham, come to mind

Wards Corner is the gateway to Tottenham. Nobody could look at what is there and believe that this should be the future for the next 20 years. New homes and an energetic town centre are the right ambition for Seven Sisters. And the market traders are an integral part of that future too.

Firstly, it is important to note that the market is neither being closed nor destroyed. The current compulsory purchase order is not “buying the market” because the freehold of the market belongs to TfL and they’ve already agreed to sell the site to the developer.

Haringey Council is committed to securing the future for this Latin Village market at Seven Sisters. During any redevelopment, there’ll be a temporary market just across the road, and when the market moves back to the original site, returning traders have a clear list of commitments, including reduced rent and the guarantee of equivalent space made by the developer, Grainger, and backed up by a committed council.

London is changing. Haringey is changing too. But what will never change under my leadership, are the values that drive us. Or whose interests motivate us – those of Haringey residents, Haringey businesses and Haringey’s diverse ethnic and social communities.

Joseph Ejiofor, Haringey Council leader
Address supplied

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Racism among football fans

The abhorrent racist events at the Bulgaria vs England football game have resulted in the justifiable condemnation of the Bulgarian fans and football authorities. At the same time, nobody seems to notice the England football set-up, in which the proportion of Bame travelling fans is significantly lower than the Bame proportions of either players in the England team or of the population as a whole. Could it be that this is a reflection of the fact that Bame people might not feel comfortable amongst the current England travelling fans? So perhaps the FA should be challenged, too, to explain its plans to create an England following that is more reflective of the whole population.

Phil Gilbert
Leicestershire

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