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    5. How a DUP mole mocked Sir Geoffrey Donaldson's authority


    How a DUP mole mocked Sir Geoffrey Donaldson's authority

    Sir Geoffrey Donaldson, who has been threatened over his pursuit of a border deal, knows he still has a fight. Photo: Charles McQuillan/Getty Images

    Sir Geoffrey Donaldson's heart, standing before a PowerPoint presentation of the government's Brexit deal, must have sank as the DUP party leader's meeting descended into chaos.

    The wheels have already come off. his carefully choreographed dance to sell Rishi Sunak's complex bid to end the DUP's two-year boycott of the Northern Ireland Assembly.

    The meeting on the Irish Sea boundary changes was called on two hours' notice and was to be held in the strictest secrecy.< /p>

    Instead, both the meeting and its location were at the Larchfield Estate in Co. Down was immediately leaked online.

    When about 120 members arrived on Monday evening, they were greeted by about 50 loyalist protesters waving banners reading “no surrender” and warning against “selling out” the DUP.

    It was a chilling reminder of how vehemently some unionists oppose Rishi Sunak's Brexit deal for Northern Ireland, which the DUP boycott was intended to change.

    Sir Geoffrey needed no reminding of how deeply divided his party is over the issue of a return to Stormont and post-Brexit border checks on UK goods and animals.

    A significant number of his voters see this as a stepping stone to Ulster's departure from the Union and forcing him to a united Ireland.

    This view was echoed by at least one member of the party leadership who had gathered to hear Sir Geoffrey make the most important speech of his career as leader of the DUP.

    As Sir Geoffrey spoke, the mole relayed details of a supposedly secret speech to influential Loyalist activist Jamie Bryson, who immediately began tweeting the appeal.

    Meeting currently in progress stopped. Anger that the meeting is being broadcast live on Twitter. 5/

    — Jamie Bryson (@JamieBrysonCPNI) January 29, 2024

    Unfortunately, he tweeted that Sir Geoffrey complained that details of every meeting he held were leaked to the media in less than an hour.

    This made a mockery of Sir Geoffrey's authority and the demands of senior management DUP on disciplined prudence and claims of party unity.

    Sir Geoffrey knows Mr Bryson well. They marched together and shared platforms in demonstrations against the Irish Sea Border Protocol.

    The DUP were rewarded with increased support at the election for taking a tough stance on the boycott and sharing a platform with Mr Bryson. a self-described “hard loyalist”.

    Sir Geoffrey has now distanced himself from the controversial Mr Bryson, who publicly took revenge on his former ally and his “surrender deal”.

    When DUP staff noticed the messages on social networks, the meeting took place. was stopped before descending into anarchy.

    According to Bryson's story on X, which continued unabated, one member falsely accused police officers present of leaking the speech.

    Sir Geoffrey defended the officers before the party chairman began barking “phones off!” There have been strange and unlikely claims that the technology is being used to jam phone signals.

    Mr Bryson said the row erupted when some members said they needed the phones to check whether an influential loyalist was texting still on Twitter.

    “They may not be able to hear me in the back,” Mr. Bryson quipped as union hardliners dubbed him “the Bryson Broadcasting Corporation.” Bryson later said that “high-ranking people in DUP,” and hinted that the mole was laying the wire. Sir Geoffrey has promised an investigation.

    These farcical scenes were the culmination of more than a week of pressure.

    The week before last, a meeting of the DUP's 12 most senior members did not produce the expected announcement of a deal, to the disappointment of the government.

    It later emerged that Sir Geoffrey had the support of a majority of the council, but had managed to keep it secret until now.

    Last week, The Telegraph exclusively revealed a number of details of the DUP government's proposal , including a patriotic rebranding of the Irish border green stripe as a UK home stripe.

    The most explosive moment was the exposure of the government. promise to test the UK's new laws to ensure they comply with border requirements and do not require significant additional checks in the Irish Sea.

    This has led to fears among Brexiteers in Westminster that Mr Sunak has sacrificed the freedom of Brexit. to get Stormont back on track.

    What cannot be denied is that the Irish Sea border is not going anywhere, the Windsor border has not been renegotiated with the EU and Northern Ireland will continue to follow EU rules.

    But the DUP has secured some concessions, including an increased $3.3 billion financial package for Stormont and Westminster's promise of legislation to guarantee Northern Ireland's place in the UK.

    Sir Geoffrey struggled to save the show as critics said the deal was purely cosmetic window dressing.

    Mice have been seen getting to a hard-won deal that risked being dead. upon arrival.

    Sir Geoffrey had to finally act. after two years and moments of what seemed like paralyzing indecision. He decided to fight back against his opponents in the DUP.

    Now that this crucial meeting has caused an uproar, he faces the nightmare scenario of a split in his party.

    Such a split would further split the trade union movement , which is under pressure from Sinn Féin's historic double election victory and will further weaken Northern Ireland's place in the UK.

    The meeting was supposed to last a five-hour marathon, during which supporters and opponents of the deal made speeches for and against.

    Gradually, slowly, the dynamic shifted in Sir Geoffrey's favor.

    Finally a vote was called and the deal was upheld with the caveat that the blessing would only be given once the government in London had passed the promised legislation.< /p>

    It was around 1am when Sir Geoffrey addressed the press and announced the party chief had backed the deal.

    The government is expected to pass legislation this week, so a two-year boycott that delays the handover of action to tackle the struggling health system and The cost of living crisis in Britain's poorest region may soon end.

    It is noteworthy that Sir Geoffrey refused to say how many voted for and against the deal.

    He said he was pleased with the “progress” the deal had made in meeting the DUP's seven lauded tests and described damaging leaks about the meeting as a “betrayal” and “misrepresentation”.

    Sir Geoffrey, who was threatened by -over his attempts to secure a border deal, knows he still has a fight.

    Posters reading “Sell Out” have been printed and pasted around DUP offices. 'Protocol enforcers'

    Mass loyalist marches against the deal are likely and Mr Bryson has vowed to bring down Sir Geoffrey, campaigning against the deal “every single day”.

    But the DUP leader has now taken committed to returning to Stormont and, as a result, extending the Brexit deal that Rishi Sunak struck with the EU in February last year.

    Sir Geoffrey was relieved and defiant after the vote.

    He told reporters: “To those who immediately say, 'Well, you didn't get this or that,' I'll simply ask, 'Well, what did you achieve?' What's your change? What did you manage to do?”

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